Thai lower house passes first reading of $100 billion budget

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s lower house of parliament approved a budget of 3.48 trillion baht ($101 billion) covering the rest of the 2024 fiscal year, voting 311 to 177 to pass the bill on its first reading, in line with expectations.

Friday’s approval of the spending budget, up 9.3% from the previous period, was delayed from the original date of Oct. 1 because of the slow process of forming a government after a May election.

“The budget allocations will provide the greatest benefit for the public,” Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said.

The budget bill had been expected to pass the first vote as the Pheu Thai-led government commands a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The government has promised to spur economic growth to an average of 5% a year.

The bill now faces deliberation by both houses of parliament in second and third readings in early April before becoming law in early May.

The budget was necessary to drive the economy, Srettha said this week, adding that growth this year is expected to range between 2.7% and 3.7%.

($1=34.6200 baht)

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng, Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Clarence Fernandez)