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10 เม.ย. 2013
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Neutral body to monitor budget

Academic body to be modelled on US Congressional unit, TDRI’s Somkiat says

The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and King Prajadhipok’s Institute have teamed up to design a new academic body to support the parliamentary budget process.

Modelled around the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the body will counter-balance the administration’s data, said Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the TDRI.

The designing process, expected to take three years, has been assisted by Thammasat University and the National Institute of Development Administration. Representing TDRI in this project is Somchai Jitsuchon, a research director.

“Our aim is to provide the public with information related to all budget issues brought into parliamentary discussion,” Somkiat said. “For example, on the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill, the body can come up with some comparisons.”

The academics have come up with the name “Thai Parliamentary Budget Office” for the body.

Thailand’s budget is now set primarily by the Budget Bureau, with the list of investment and spending projects supplied by government units. Right after the Cabinet’s approval, annual budget bills are submitted for parliamentary approval. Details of the investment and spending projects are mostly omitted from the screening.

If it operates exactly like the CBO, the body will provide estimates and projections on all spending projects, including the Royal Thai Army’s.

Posted on the CBO’s website last week was its analysis of the US Army’s plan to acquire Ground Combat Vehicles (GCVs). “The Army’s proposed Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) programme would cost US$29 billion (in 2013 dollars) over the 2014-2030 period, CBO estimates. CBO compares the Army’s plan for the programme with four options and finds that, although no option would meet all of the Army’s goals, all are likely to be less costly and pose a smaller risk of delay than CBO expects for the Army’s plan.”

While sequestration led to a cut in the US federal deficit to below US$1 trillion (about Bt30 trillion) in 2013 for the first time since 2008, CBO projects that under current law, the annual deficits and federal debt will stay at historically high levels relative to the economy through till 2023.

Founded in 1974, CBO has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the US Congressional budget process. The agency is strictly non-partisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis. All CBO employees are appointed solely on the basis of professional competence, without regard to political affiliation. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. All of CBO’s products apart from informal cost estimates for legislation being developed privately by Members of Congress or their staffs are available to the Congress and the public on CBO’s website.

Its operations draw on the knowledge and insights of talented analysts on its staff as well as input from outside experts (including professors, analysts at think tanks, private-sector experts, and employees at other government agencies).

Providing stronger checks and balances are part of TDRI’s mission under the reign of Somkiat, who became the institute’s president late last year. TDRI now trains its attention on the country’s fiscal position in light of swelling social spending projects, corruption and education.

ตีพิมพ์ครั้งแรก: หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation วันที่ 8 เมษายน 2556 ในชื่อ “Neutral body to monitor budget”