Gov’t and Opposition MPs Urge Scrutiny in Coronavirus Loan

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to the Parliament on May 27, 2020.

BANGKOK — MPs from both opposition and government factions said Thursday they want more clarity and oversight of the proposed 1 trillion loan bill for the coronavirus relief efforts.

The debate continues on the second day of the Parliament session where MPs express concerns how the loan will be handled. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said the bill is necessary to restart the country’s economy and “heal” Thailand after the damages caused by the coronavirus.

During the debate, Democrat party-list MP Kiat Sittheeamorn said while taking a massive loan is the only way out, details must be made available to the public online and real time.

“There’re little details and a lot of problems. What I am worried about is that there’s no details as to whether the loan will be made from local source, foreign source or by issuing government bonds,” said Kiat, whose party is a member of the Prayut Chan-ocha government coalition.

Kiat said members of the public who will receive future assistance from the government using the loan money should also have a role to oversee rehabilitation projects to promote good governance.

“There should at least be one committee to oversee the rehabilitations,” Kiat said. “Please adjust the ways scrutiny will be conducted. To simply say it’s transparent won’t make it transparent. Information should be revealed online and real time.”

Sumrit Thaensub Palang Pracharat Party MP for Chaiyaphum province is another pro-government MP who expressed concerns about the loan’s transparency.

“I hope it goes ahead with transparency and cautiously and precisely,” Sumrit told the House.

Another government coalition lawmaker, Democrat MP for Samut Sakhon province Rangsima Rodrasamee, also called for an oversight on how the massive sum will be used.

“This is a massive amount of money. There will be attempts to siphon it. The use of money should be scrutinized in order to ensure maximum benefits.”

Although most opposition MPs who took to the floor on Thursday did not oppose the need for taking the loan, they agreed with their rivals on the coalition benches that the loan should be treated with utmost transparency.

Move Forward Party MP for Chiang Rai province Ekkapob Pianpises called for the establishment of a special house committee to monitor the loan and its use.

“The committee considered the loan had no one from the public health sector or representatives on the people. We should have a special house committee to follow and scrutinize how the sum will be used,” Ekkapob said.

Ekkapob added that the government should ensure that 67 billion baht be set aside for anti-coronavirus vaccines which could cost up to 1,000 per head.

“This shouldn’t be a victory on the ruin of the economy, on a huge debt that the younger generations will have to repay for us,” Ekkapob told the House.