The Royal Thai Navy’s (RTN) plan to procure two Chinese-made Yuan-class submarines, at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of 22.5 billion baht, cannot be scrapped because it was approved, in principle, in accordance with the 2020 Budget Act. It can, however, be postponed or delayed, according to Mr. Santi Promphat, chairman of the House Budget Scrutiny Committee today.
The RTN’s submarine procurement project is strongly opposed by many in and out of Parliament, who claim that the money should be better used to ease the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Opinion is also divided among government parties, with the Democrats saying that the project should be postponed.
Mr. Santi said that the House Budget Scrutiny Committee has agreed to postpone discussion of the controversial project until August 31st, to allow time to gather more information.
Eight subcommittees of the House Budget Scrutiny Committee have been assigned to study the various aspects of the project, with some of them yet to report their findings.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, said today that the new submarines are not intended for combat use, but to enhance Thai security and protect Thailand’s marine resources.
He insisted that the money for the purchase is part of the RTN’s budget allocation, spread across several fiscal years adding, however, that it is up to the House Budget Scrutiny Committee to approve or reject the project.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)