Government to spend 29 billion baht on monarchy

Caption: Thai cabinet in front of Government House, July 2019

The national budget bill for 2020 shows that government will spend 29.728 billion baht on monarchy, amounting to 0.93% of the total budget

In his speech to parliament, however, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said that government would spend 5.351 billion baht on the national institution as a part of 4,281 billion baht security budget. 

The 29.728 billion baht budget for the monarchy is separated into direct and indirect budget. A budget of 19.685 billion baht is spent on activities directly related to the monarchy such as royal activities, security, and travel. Most of the budget is allocated to Royal Agencies (7.685 billion), the Ministry of Interior (2.378 billion), and the Ministry of Defence (1.713 billion). The rest goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (15 million), the Ministry of Commerce (13 million), the Office of the Prime Minister (506 million), and non-ministerial departments (847 million). 

Direct Budget for the Monarchy: 19.685 billion baht 

Department Budget (million baht)
1. Royal Agencies (Office of the Privy Council; Bureau of the Royal Household; Royal Security Command) 7,685
2. Central Budget 6,528

2.1 Royal travel and reception of foreign heads of state

1,000

2.2 (Office of the Prime Minister) Maximum convenience and safety for flights of the Royal Family upon request. 

5,528

3. Ministry of Interior

2,378

3.1 (Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning) Survey, design, construction and maintenance of special activities inside royal areas to be durable, of the highest standard, and beautiful as befits royalty.

2,378

4. Ministry of Defence 1,713

4.1 (Office of the Permanent Secretary) Support for guarding, honouring, and acting in line with the wishes of the King. 

1,201

4.2 (Army) Projects protecting, honouring and acting in line with the wishes of the King and upholding the monarchy.

336

4.3 (Supreme Command Headquarters) Projects protecting, honouring and acting in line with the wishes of the King and upholding the monarchy.

62

4.4 (Navy) Projects protecting, honouring and acting in line with the wishes of the King and upholding the monarchy.

51

4.5 (Air Force) Projects protecting, honouring and acting in line with the wishes of the King and upholding the monarchy.

41

4.6 (Office of the Permanent Secretary) Projects protecting, honouring and acting in line with the wishes of the King and upholding the monarchy.

22

5. Non-ministerial departments 847

5.1 Special committee for coordination of royal projects

847

6. Office of the Prime Minister 506

6.1 Coordination with Royal Agencies and requests royal decorations

505.5

6.2 Project for meetings to consider requests for royal decorations

0.5

7. Ministry of Commerce 13

7.1 (Department of International Trade Promotion) Project to exhibit new Sirivannavari Brand products in foreign countries.

13

8. Ministry of Foreign Affairs 15

8.1 (Office of the Permanent Secretary) Expenditure on protecting and upholding the monarchy

15

Meanwhile, the 10.043 billion baht indirect budget is spent on royal projects, projects to honour the King and public relations. It is allocated to the central budget (2.790 billion baht), non-ministerial departments (2.051 billion baht), the Ministry of Interior (1.518 billion baht), the Ministry of Culture (1.378 billion baht), the Ministry of Health (902 million baht), the Office of the Prime Minister (391 million baht), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (374 million baht), and other ministries (426 million baht). 

The total amount spent on the monarchy is far higher than the budget spent on justice (26 billion), judicial bodies (20 billion), foreign affairs (9 billion), parliamentary bodies (8.7 billion), culture (8.5 billion), commerce (7.5 billion), and energy (2.2 billion). 

Another 1.262 billion baht is allocated to projects whose names are associated with royal theories and projects. For example, the Department of Fisheries is to spend 50 million baht on a training programme for 70,000 farmers participating in New Theory of Agriculture projects. The Ministry of Human Security and Social Development also is allocated 122 million baht on projects to promote and develop target group capacity in accordance to royal wishes, royal thoughts, and royal projects. If these budget allocations are included, the cumulative figure will reach 30 billion baht.

Another 399 million baht in the budgets of provincial administrations indirectly involves the monarchy. For example, Nakhon Pathom has allocated 3.5 million baht to the To Be Number One project initiated by Princess Ubolratana to combat drug problems in schools. Rayong has allocated 9.4 million baht to the same project. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya has allocated 9.2 million baht on agricultural management using the sufficiency economy philosophy and extension of projects based on royal thoughts.  

The 2020 national budget bill which contains these allocations was passed in the midst of a scandal. In the vote to pass the 3.2 trillion baht budget bill in January, many government MPs were shown to have cast their votes despite being absent from the chamber. It was later revealed that other MPs used their voting cards to vote on their behalf, an act which is illegal and unconstitutional. Chuan Leekpai filed a case with the Constitutional Court asking it to rule if the bill is valid.

This delayed government disbursement of the budget, triggering concern that the economy may suffer, as the budget year officially began last October. The Constitutional Court ruled that the bill was still valid and allowed a re-vote despite ruling differently on similar cases in the past. The bill was passed at the end of February with retroactive effect and 7 months left in the financial year.