2021 budget: expenses related to the monarchy from all agencies total 37 billion baht

In late August 2020 when the Budget Expenditures Bill 2021 passed to the committee stage, Prachatai released the report ‘Budget related to the monarchy in 2021 revealed: details according to the Budget Act’ which referenced data from the Bureau of the Budget’s website.

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

In summary, in 2021, various agencies allocated budget related to the monarchy, all of which total approximately 37.228 billion baht or 1.12% of all the national budget (3.3 trillion baht), divided into 20.653 billion baht in direct expenses and 16.575 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 it can be seen that these projects in an indirect way improve the public relations of the monarchy, or could lead to a project not being audited, etc.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha attends a photo session with new cabinet ministers at the Government House in Bangkok on 16 July 2019 (source: File/Thaigov)

In addition, the budget for the monarchy was previously rarely mentioned by politicians. In mid-December 2020, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, adviser to the Ad Hoc 2021 Budget Scrutiny Committee, questioned the budget for the Royal Offices (see here), thought to be the first time details of the expenses of these agencies were questioned since they were established during the NCPO government in 2017. Thanathorn questioned why every year the budget for this agency is higher than the estimate: it increased 67% in 6 years and in 2021 the budget is as high as 8.98 billion baht, an almost 17% increase from the previous year before (see here), while the budget draft document does not break down the details of expenses like it does for other agencies. Thanathorn emphasised that making the budget for this agency transparent will protect the honour of the monarchy.

Details of the budget expenses related to the monarchy are as follows:

For fiscal year 2021 the expenses allocated directly for the monarchy, such as security, construction within royal palace grounds, etc., are found to be not much different from the year before (2020) as appears in the following table:

 

Comparison of direct expenses (million baht)

2020

2021

Royal Offices

7,685

8,981

(Royal Thai Police) Strategic plan to reinforce security for the pillar institution of the nation

1,976

1,650

(Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning) Projects related to royal palace grounds

2,378

1,700

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

5,528

5,184

(Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence) Support for security for the King and operations according to His Majesty’s intentions.

1,201

1,218

(Central Budget) Royal travel and receiving foreign royal guests

1,000

1,000

(Secretariat of the Cabinet) Efficient operations related to coordination with Royal Offices (related to royal decorations)

506

496

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

-

80

Total

20,274

20,309

Source: Bureau of the Budget website
 

A look at the details of each agency shows more interesting data, for example:

1. Royal Offices

Starting from 6,800 million in 2019 and continuing to increase until fiscal year 2024, it is estimated that the Royal Offices will receive more than 10,000 million baht.

Comparison of budget for 2019-2021 and budget estimates for 2022-2024 (unit: million baht)

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

6,800

7,685.2828

8,980.8896

9,519.7429

10,090.9274

10,696.3830

Details of expenses did not appear in the budget draft but this agency’s mission is to 1) conduct secretarial work for the King, 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; 3) coordinate between the monarch and the government, parliament, government agencies and various organisations both within and outside the country as well as the people; 4) conduct work related to requests for royal benevolence in various issues and respond to royal commands related to relieving the suffering of the people; 5) publicise royal duties, art and culture, and traditions for wide dissemination to the public both within and outside the country; 6) manage funds, projects and benefits of royal palace property under the management of the Bureau of the Royal Household, including temples under royal patronage as well as properties of royal family members at the king’s pleasure; and 7) any other duties at the king’s command.

2. Royal Thai Police

The Royal Thai Police is an agency directly under the Prime Minister. It receives a budget of more than ten billion baht. Interestingly, its mission is to 1) provide security to the King and royal family members, then followed by 2) enforce the law and facilitate justice and 3) protect the peace and order and security of the kingdom.

The Royal Thai Police have many missions and plans. One of these is the strategic plan to reinforce security of the pillar institution of the nation. Duration: 19 years (2019-2037) with a total budget of around 26,008 million baht. For the 2021 budget, the total is 1,649.8697 million baht:

Project to provide security for the monarchy and royal family members

Operating budget

Capital budget

Other expenses

Total

1,134.2239

255.4080

260.2378

1,649.8697

(unit: million baht)

The budget for providing security has two performance indicators:

Indicators

2020* (results)

2021

Providing security worthy of royal honour and according to the king’s wishes

100%

(100)

100%

Police training on providing royal safety

4,000 trainees

(873)

4,000 trainees

*results for fiscal year 2020 (6 months)

The numbers in “Police training to provide royal security” are what the media calls the “Infantry Police.” An order was issued some time ago to select commissioned and non-commissioned officers “of excellence” to be trained and transferred to the Royal Security Command in 2020, totalling 873 officers. This group had to undergo basic training for a period of 6 months (1 Oct 2019-31 Mar 2020). The selection criteria looked at appropriate characteristics, loyalty, good attitude, strong physique, overall readiness and a signed record to volunteer for duty. Even so, some unrest still occurred in the initial stages, as appeared in the columns of a leading newspaper. There was also a report that a number of police officers who did not report for duty were punished with at least 9 months of disciplinary training.

Details of the capital budget revealed one project to build the Ratchawallop Police Retainers, King's Guard 904 Headquarters, Central Investigation Bureau, Lat Phrao. The total 2021 budget is 177,600,000 baht, but this is a multi-year budget. The total budget is 480,000,000 baht divided into:

Year 2020, budget of 96,000,000 baht
Year 2021, budget of 177,600,000 baht
Year 2022, committed budget of 206,400,000 baht

3. Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning

The Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning received a total budget of 29.84 billion baht, covering many plans, each plan containing many projects. One of these is the Strategic Plan to Reinforce the Security of the Monarchy with a budget of 1,700 million baht, all of which will be used in a “Special Royal Activities Support Project.”

The Special Royal Activities Support Project’s objective is to support the design, construction and maintenance of special royal activities within royal grounds. The duration is 15 years (2010-2024) with a total budget of 21,438,781,400 baht.

For 2021 the budget is set at 1,700 million baht. When looked at in detail, we see that this money is to aid construction within royal palace grounds. The table of goals and indicators shows that in 2020-2024 there will be construction at 6 places but it is not made clear what will be constructed or where. The qualitative goals are security, highest standards, beauty, fitness for royal honour, completed and compliance with the King’s wishes.

The budget is set as follows (unit: million baht):

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2,378

1,700

2,000

2,000

2,000

4. Secretariat of the Prime Minister

The Secretariat of the Prime Minister set the 2021 budget at 5,988,779,100 baht. Almost all is to be spent on basic security plans.

1. Government management of security. The objective is that the King and all royal family members receive the highest convenience and safety, as well as security, safety and peace and order in the country.

In detail, we see that more than 2,600 million is expenses in equipment, land and construction, and includes more than a few helicopters for royal use and planes for VIP use. The budget is divided into commitments over many years.

- 2 accompanying helicopters for royal travel, including other expenses: 967,335,100 baht
Total budget of 2,802,085,100 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 549,441,100 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 786,153,300 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 967,335,100 baht
Year 2022, a committed budget of 499,155,600 baht

- 3 helicopters for royal use, including other necessary expenses: 142,554,500 baht
Total budget of 2,970,932,600 baht
Year 2018, a budget of 662,746,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 1,275,400,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 890,232,100 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 142,554,500 baht

- 1 plane for VIP travel, including other necessary expenses: 325,068,300 baht
Total budget of 3,279,745,400 baht

Year 2018, a budget of 712,651,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 1,363,900,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 878,126,100 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 325,068,300 baht

- 3 planes for VIP travel, including other necessary expenses: 969,073,500 baht
Total budget of 2,703,688,500 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 529,420,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 555,760,000 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 969,073,500 baht
Year 2022, a committed budget of 649,435,000 baht

- Royal aircraft hangar 1, Dechochai 3 Royal Flight Unit: 76,931,499 baht
Total budget of 281,800,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 56,519,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 148,349,600 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 76,931,400 baht

- Royal aircraft hangar 2, Dechochai 3 Royal Flight Unit: 41,530,900 baht
Total budget of 187,500,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 38,121,200 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 107,847,900 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 41,530,900 baht

- Royal helicopter hangar, 201 Squadron, Wing 2, including facilities: 95,000,000 baht

5. Ministry of Defence

The basic security plan specifies that one product is support for the provision of security to the monarchy and operations according to the king’s wishes

Budget

Unit

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

Operating

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

Capital

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

Subsidy

mTHB

1,210.15

1,218.46

1,304.72

1,024.80

1.022.02

Other expensess

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

Off-budget

mTHB

 

 

 

 

 

Details of the expenses are divided into car rental and buildings without detailing what buildings and where.

Details

1. Subsidy: 1,218,466,000 baht

1.1 General subsidy: 1,015,886,300 baht
(1) Subsidy for security support expenses for the monarchy 1,015,868,300 baht

1.2 Special subsidy: 202,597,700 baht
(1) Car rental 2,784,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 3,120,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget of 1,288,000 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 2,784,000 baht
Year 2022, a committed budget of 2,784,000 baht
Year 2021, a committed budget of 2,784,000 baht 

(2) 1 item of construction costs: 194,092,400 baht
Total budget of 620,500,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 98,768,200 baht
Year 2020, a budget 54,960,700 baht
Year 2021, a committed budget of 194,092,400 baht
Year 2022, a committed budget of 272,678,700 baht 

(2) Consultant fees: 5,721,300 baht
Total budget ceiling of 21,700,000 baht
Year 2019, a budget of 2,174,000 baht
Year 2020, a budget 6,564,000 baht
Year 2021, a budget of 5,721,300 baht
Year 2022, a committed budget of 7,240,000 baht

For 2021 indirect expenses, there is a great diversity. 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: 11,434 baht
2. Pageantry projects fostering a consciousness revering the monarchy: - 1,261 million baht
3. TO BE NUMBER ONE project, 170 million baht
4. Plant genetic conservation/rare plants under the patronage of Princess Sirindhorn, total budget of 150 million baht
5. Other projects in various agencies, totalling 3,904 million baht

For further details see the Thai version

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: service@prachatai.com, please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”