Thai PM defends submarine purchase and explains causes of huge public debt

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended the Royal Thai Navy’s 22 billion baht procurement of three Yuan-class submarines from China as being worth the taxpayers’ money, compared to the 24 trillion baht in maritime interests that Thailand is expected to gain.

Maintaining that the decision to purchase the submarines was based on national and public interests, he said that they will strengthen Thailand’s maritime capabilities.

He also defended the procurement of military equipment, such as night-vision goggles, for Special Forces as being necessary for national defence, adding that those who are not military personnel may not know how important modern military hardware is for the defence of the country.

The prime minister was speaking during the censure debate today, in response to opposition MPs’ allegations that the government has wasted taxpayer’s money buying military “toys”, while the national economy is in bad shape and the majority of the people are struggling just to make ends meet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to opposition MPs’ allegations, that his government has created huge public debt, beyond legal limits, the prime minister hit back at the Pheu Thai party, saying that a large chunk of the debt was caused by the heavy losses from the Yingluck government’s corruption-riddled rice pledging scheme, adding that the government has already paid 750 billion baht to settle the debt from that scheme, with 280 billion baht yet to be settled.

On top of that, he explained that his government has to set aside 20 billion baht to account for losses caused by the failed Uah Arthorn housing project, also initiated by the Pheu Thai party.

Regarding the one trillion baht loan, the prime minister said that funding from this borrowing has been used to help many groups of people affected by the pandemic, such as farmers, low-income earners, freelance workers and workers covered by the social security scheme, citing the Rao Chana giveaway scheme as one of the examples.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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