BANGKOK Aug 18 Thai junta leader General
Prayuth Chan-ocha, stressing that the military had a "limited
time" in power before a return to civilian rule, submitted a
draft fiscal 2015 budget on Monday, with defence and education
receiving hefty increases.
The military seized power in May after months of street
demonstrations which led to the ouster of Prime Minister
The Ministry of Education was allocated 498.16 billion baht
($15.66 billion), a 3.2 percent increase from last year's budget
and 19.5 percent of the total budget allocations. Prayuth has
called for education reforms as part of his plans to reshape the
country and restore political stability.
Defence spending, which typically increases in Thailand
after a coup, grew 5 percent from last year's allocation to
193.07 billion baht ($6.07 billion).
"If we don't increase the budget and purchase new weapons,
then nobody will fear us," Prayuth told reporters.
The 2.58 trillion baht ($81.08 billion) draft budget, up
around 2 percent from 2014, was submitted to the
military-dominated National Legislative Assembly and will be
considered by ad-hoc committees and adopted in the coming weeks.
"The NCPO wants every ministry to put the budget to the best
use possible because we have a limited time in power," Prayuth
said, referring to the National Council for Peace and Order, as
the junta is formally known.
The economy may expand 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent next year,
he added, as the political situation stabilises.
The National Economic and Social Development Board, which
compiles gross domestic product data, on Monday trimmed its 2014
full-year growth forecast to 1.5-2.0 percent from a 1.5-2.5
Thailand avoided recession in the second quarter, the state
planning agency said on Monday, but questions remain about the
pace and depth of growth.
The board said it expected to see steady economic recovery
in the second half of the year.
Prayuth, who led the May 22 coup, will likely become prime
minister in coming days, according to legislature members.
Prayuth has outlined a three-phase plan of reconciliation,
formation of a government and elections in 2015.
"I hope that in 2015 the country will come into its own,"
Prayuth said. "We seized power in order to improve confidence in
Since taking power, the junta has made delayed payments to
rice farmers, capped fuel prices and made a point of reassuring
foreign investors that Thailand will return to democracy within
a year. It has also approved urgent infrastructure projects.
The moves appear to have helped consumer confidence which
rose to the highest in 11 months in July, data this month
($1 = 32 baht)
(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Panarat
Thepgumpanat; Editing by Nick Macfie)