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Thai court to decide on contentious water management decrees


14:37, February 22, 2012

BANGKOK, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Constitution Court is scheduled to rule Wednesday on the constitutionality of two controversial executive decrees regarding water management proposed by the government as part of the flood prevention plan.

One of the decrees is intended to allow the government to seek 350 billion baht (11.4 million US dollars) in loans for water management projects and flood rehabilitation work.

The other is to enable the Finance Ministry to transfer the full responsibility for the 1.14 trillion baht (37 billion US dollars) bailout debt from the 1997 financial crisis to the Bank of Thailand's Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF).

The Democrat Party and a group of senators petitioned the Constitution Court to rule on the constitutionality of the two decrees. Korn Chatikavanij, deputy leader of the opposition Democrat Party, said the two financial executive decrees need to be reviewed by the court as they have the potential to inflict irreparable damage on budgeting and financial discipline and weaken the fiscal role of the legislative branch in the future.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong represented Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to defend the two decrees in testimony at court on Feb. 15, reasoning that the decrees were needed to restore confidence in Thailand after the flood crisis last year.

Kittirat earlier said that the 350-billion-baht loan would be spent on water management projects along the Chao Phraya river basin and the transfer of the FIDF's debt would help ease the government's fiscal burden.

Yingluck Shinawatra's government plans to seek loans for water management purpose to prevent flooding in short and long terms by issuing four executive decrees. However, the opponents said there was no justification for the issuance of the decrees unless going through the parliament consideration. The transfer of FIDF's debt was also criticized as government interference with the central bank.


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