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Revote on budget bill to be held this week

Push for second and third readings to proceed without debate, but opposition MPs disagree

The House of Representatives is scheduled to revote on the Bt3.2 trillion budget bill in its second and third readings on Thursday [February 13] following the Constitutional Court’s ruling last week.

The court ruled that the bill was valid but that the voting process was irregular because proxy voting is an act of dishonesty.

In the verdict, the court said it did not rule either on the essence of the bill or the wrongdoing or criminal guilt of any MP.

Some 193 members of parliament on both the government and opposition sides asked the court to weigh in on the matter after it was determined that at least two Bhumjaithai Party MPs had allowed colleagues to cast votes in their absence in favour of the bill.

The budget bill for fiscal 2020 passed approval from both House and Senate in January.

The 2020 fiscal year began on October 1, 2019 but is running more than four months late due to a delay in the endorsement of the general election results.

The House could complete the revote in the second and third readings in one day if there is no debate from MPs. In the second reading, the House must vote Article by Article starting from Article 1 through to Article 55.

However, while government whips said they would propose to the House to proceed with the vote without debate to avoid any unnecessary delay and thus allow the bill to be submitted to the Senate the following day, opposition parties said they would again debate the content and that could take around three days.

After the House passes the bill in the third reading it will be submitted to the Senate for deliberation.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kruea-ngarm said that MPs have the right to debate on the second reading but feels they should realize that passing the bill is urgent.

He expects the budget bill to be ready for forwarding to His Majesty the King for approval before the end of this month.

The current session of Parliament is scheduled to end on February 29.

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