A file photo of the oath-taking ceremony.

2023 budget: expenses related to the monarchy from all agencies total 34.752 bn baht

In mid-August 2022 before parliament considered the second and third readings of the Budget Expenditures Bill 2023, Prachatai released a report ‘Budget related to the monarchy in 2023 revealed: details according to the Budget Act’ which referenced data from the Bureau of the Budget website.

King Rama X and Queen Suthida attend the opening ceremony of the King Rama VI statue. (Source: The Royal Office)

This is the fourth year that Prachatai has opened all budget documents to add up all the expenses related to the monarchy that were scattered among various agencies.

In summary, in 2023, a number of agencies were allocated budget related to the monarchy, all of which total approximately 34.75 billion baht or 1.09% of the total national budget (3.185 trillion baht), divided into 16.92 billion baht in direct expenses and 17.83 billion baht in indirect expenses.

It must be noted that many of the projects among the indirect expenses are for the public benefit. But referring to or claiming a connection to the monarchy may have a significance that the public can further analyse in many ways.

For example, these projects may showcase the abilities of royal family members in various ways, or these projects can be seen to improve, in an indirect way, the public relations image of the monarchy, or could lead to a project not being audited, etc.

At the parliamentary stage, a Move Forward MP raised for debate the undeclared items in the budget for the Royal Offices and its unsuitability during the pandemic situation, requesting that the budget be reduced. The majority of parliament did not agree with the MP.

Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, Palang Pracharat Party MP, then demanded that the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) dissolve the Move Forward Party since criticism of the Royal Offices budget constitutes opposing the democratic form of government with the King as Head of State. Early this year, ECT summoned Move Forward to clarify or present evidence on the case.

On the first item on agenda of the 2023 budget, Bencha Saengchantra, Move Forward MP, pointed out the problem that by not revealing details of the budget allocated for the monarchy makes projects fragmented, not worthwhile and not worthy of the honour of the royal family. They are tools used for false claims for doing projects in the budget repeatedly every year.

It was also proposed to create an integrated budget plan specifically related to the monarchy by having the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (ORDPB) take the “lead” in looking after and prioritising all royal projects.

On the second agenda item, the Move Forward MP submitted a motion on the budget Royal Office, noting that although there is progress in clarification, such as summoning the Secretariat of the Cabinet to provide details and producing a video explaining the number of personnel and organisational structure which allows the committee to see a better picture, it is still difficult to scrutinise and does not reach the standard of other agencies.

The MP also questioned the overlapping budget in 3 agencies which are the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Royal Thai Police and Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp Department, which has already transferred all its forces. This means the same budget is doubled up in two places, totalling to 11.2 billion baht. However, the House of Representatives resolved to not reduce the budget.

Details of the 2023 budget expenses related to the monarchy which Prachatai had surveyed from the Budget Expenditure Bill 2023 documents are as follows:

For FY 2023, the expenses allocated directly for the monarchy, such as security, construction within royal palace grounds, etc., are found to be not much different from 2020, 2021, and 2022  as appears in the following table:

Comparison of direct expenses in the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 bills (unit: million baht)

Agency/Item

2020

2021

2022

2023

Royal Office

7,685

8,981

8,761

8,611

(Royal Thai Police) Project to provide security to the King and royal family members

1,976

1,650

2,119

1,574

(Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning) Projects for royal special activity support according to the strategic plan to reinforce security of the pillar institution of the nation

2,378

1,700

1,500

1,500

(Secretariat of the Cabinet) The King and royal family members receive the highest safety (royal flights)

5,528

5,184

3,523

2,342

(Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence) Support for security for the monarchy

1,201

1,218

1,296

1,015

(Central Budget) Royal travel and receiving foreign royal guests

1,000

1,000

800

800

(Secretariat of the Cabinet) Coordination with the Royal Office and royal decorations

506

496

412

410

(ISOC) Reinforcement of security for the pillar institution of the nation

-

80

21

34

Source: Bureau of the Budget website

When the details of each agency are examined, additional interesting information is found, for example:

1. Royal Office

The budget started at 6,391 million baht on its establishment in 2018 and continues to increase each year with the exception of a slight decrease this year has from the year before, but it is estimated that the Royal Offices budget will continue to increase and will receive more than 10,111 million baht in 2026.

Budgets for 2018-2023 and budget estimates for 2024-2026 (unit: million baht)

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

6391

6800

7686

8980

8,761

8611

9082

9582

10,111

(X axis, from left to right): Transfer of forces, Budget estimation.

(Y axis) Unit: Million baht

Details of expenses do not appear in the draft budget of only 9 pages, but this agency’s mission is to:

  1. conduct secretarial work for the monarch, both in governmental affairs and the personal affairs of the King and royal family members, including secretarial work for the Privy Council;
  2. organise royal ceremonies, state ceremonies, ceremonies, and royal charity events including royal travel and royal audiences;
  3. coordinate between the monarchy and the government, parliament, government agencies and various organisations both within and outside the country, including the general population;
  4. conduct work related to requests for royal benevolence and respond to royal commands related to relieving the suffering of the people, including providing help to people suffering from natural disasters and difficulties;
  5. publicise royal duties, art, culture and traditions for wide dissemination to the public both within and outside the country;
  6. manage projects, foundations and funds under royal support, including temples under the royal patronage as well as properties of royal family members at the king’s pleasure;
  7. provide safety and glorification to the King, Queen, Crown Prince, royal family members which are of Phra Ong Chao rank or higher, regent and foreign heads of state who are royal guests to receive the highest honour, including safeguarding peace and order within the royal palace grounds;
  8. any other duties at the king’s command.

2.Royal Thai Police

The Royal Thai Police is an agency reporting directly to the Prime Minister. It received a budget of 115,527.65 million baht. Interestingly, its first mission is to provide security to the King and royal family members, followed by enforcing the law and facilitating justice and then maintaining the peace and order and security of the kingdom.

The Royal Thai Police have many missions and plans, including a strategic plan to reinforce security of the pillar institution of the nation. In the 2023 budget, the total budget is 1,574.35 million baht while 1,416 million baht is for providing security to royal family members:

7.3 The strategic plan to reinforce security of the pillar institution of the nation: 1,574,356,500 baht

  • 7.3.1 Project 1: Provide security to the King and royal family members
  • 7.3.1.1 Objective: To provide security to the King and royal family members successfully with the highest efficiency and no violations.
  • 7.3.1.2 Location: Country wide
  • 7.3.1.3 Duration: 8 years (2019-2026)
  • 7.3.1.4 Total budget: 11,537,267,000 baht
  • 7.3.1.5 Expenses categorized by activity – expenses budget

Activity

Expenses

Operational Costs

Investment

Subsidy

Other expenses

Total

Total

1,233.1687

183.1927

 

157.9951

1,574.3565

1. Promote participation in community strengthening

 

 

 

157.9951

157.9951

2. Provide security to the King and royal family members

1,233.1687

183.1927

 

 

1,416.3614

7.3.1.6 Project objectives, budget and estimated budget framework for mid phase of the project, categorized by budget sources

Indicator/Source

Unit

Budget

Estimated budget**

Initiation to 2022 (actual)

2023

2024

2025

2026 to end

Quantitative: Minimum number of police officers who have passed Local CAT training

Persons

4,000

(538)

4,000

 

4,000

 

4,000

 

4,000

 

Quantitative: Provision of suitable security satisfactory to the King’s wishes

Percentage

100

(100)

100

100

100

100

Total

mTHB

5,999.9587

1,574.3535

1,341.1713

1,357.6785

1,264.1020

Budget

mTHB

5,999.9587

1,574.3535

1,341.1713

1,357.6785

1,264.1020

Operational costs

mTHB

3,779.2401

1,233.1687

1,183.1762

1,199.6843

1,106.1069

Capital costs

mTHB

1,656.4200

183.1927

 

 

 

Grant-in-aid

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

Other expenses

mTHB

564.2986

157.9951

157.9951

157.9951

157.9951

Off-budget expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Actual expenses for 2022 fiscal year operations (6 months)

**Estimated expenses according to missions and objectives budgeted for 2023 which will continue operations into fiscal year 2024-2026

The security budget has two performance indicators: no less than 4,000 police officers passing Local CAT training per year starting from -2026 and provision of suitable security satisfactory to the king’s wishes.

3. Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning

The Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning is allocated a budget for royal special activity support projects (according to the strategic plan to reinforce security of the pillar institution of the nation) of 1,500 million baht. In the 2023 Budget bill, the terms “within royal palace grounds” has been deleted, as was the case in 2022, while the bills for 2021 and 2020 contained the term.

4. Secretariat of the Prime Minister

The Secretariat of the Prime Minister is allocated a 2023 budget of 3,093.8 million baht. Almost all is to be spent on basic security plans costing 2,342.6 million baht, allocated to provide the highest possible security to the King and royal family members. The item with the highest budget is related to planes and helicopters for royal use.

5. Ministry of Defence

The indicators and service objectives of the Ministry indicate that the monarchy receives the highest security and glory worthy of Their Majesties’ honour. The budget is 1,449.95 million baht, distributed amongst various major agencies in the Ministry such as the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Defence, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters.

Service Objective

Indicator

Budget/Estimated Budget*/Indicator objective value

Unit

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

8. The monarchy receives the highest security and glory worthy of Their Majesties’ honour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qualitative: Success in protecting and glorifying the monarchy and following the King’s commands

Percentage

100

100

100

100

100

Quantitative: Minimum number of activities glorifying the monarchy

Times

653

806

650

650

650

Budget

mTHB

1,713.8504

1,449.9526

1,447.1686

1,447.1686

1,447.1686

Off-budget expenses

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

The Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence is allocated a budget of 1,015 million baht for supporting monarchy security.

In addition, there is a project to protect and glorify the monarchy and follow the king’s commands – the budget for this project is divided among the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters at 17.75, 281.71, 45.50, 35.94 and 53.08 million baht, respectively.

The Secretariat of the Prime Minister is allocated 20 million baht for expenses in royal ceremonies and important government ceremonies, including the Army’s 12.4 million baht for building roads and drainage systems near the royal helicopter hanger, 201st Helicopter Squadron, 2nd Wing Air Command, Khao Phra Ngam Subdistrict, Mueang Lopburi District, Lopburi Province.

Indirect expenses show great diversity in 2023. The projects are in line with the missions of each organisation, but if similar projects distributed among different agencies are categorised together, the results are as follows:

1. Royal Project Foundation/royal projects/projects related to the sufficiency economy: 13,361 million baht

2. Homage projects publicizing reputational public relations and fostering a consciousness of revering the monarchy: 1,844.9 million baht

3. TO BE NUMBER ONE project (an anti-drug addiction among youth project): 195.3 million baht

4. Plant genetic conservation/rare plants projects under the patronage of Princess Sirindhorn: 407.5 million baht

5. Rabies-free animals projects according to the intentions of Princess Chulabhorn: 455.84 million baht

6. Other projects in various agencies: 1,564 million baht

For further details, see the Thai version

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