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New budget unveiled

(BangkokPost, Agencies)

The government officially unveiled its record budget for 2008 on Wednesday, featuring spending of 1.66 trillion baht, a deficit of 165 billion, and another increase of 24 per cent in military spending.

The defence ministry will get the biggest increase in spending, with a budget of 140 billion baht, representing 8.6 per cent of the budget overall.

Fixed government spending will account for 72.8 per cent of the total budget, investment for 24.4 per cent and debt service for 2.8 per cent.

Interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, selected as premier after the Sept 19 coup, announced the budget in a speech to the military-appointed parliament.

The budget is six per cent bigger than that for the fiscal year ending this September. The deficit is 65 per cent more than the deficit expected in this fiscal year, Gen Surayud said.

"The deficit will be 1.8 per cent of GDP and will not affect the country's economic stability. The government intends to maintain continuous growth," he said.

"The 2008 budget is based on the assumption that the country's economy will grow by 5.0 per cent and inflation will be around 3.0 per cent,"

Gen Surayud said more spending was needed to shore up confidence in the private sector and to boost economic growth.

Increased government spending will boost infrastructure projects, including more railway lines for the mass transit system here and improved highways around the country.

Government revenue is expected to be 1.49 trillion baht in the new fiscal year.

The budget deficit will be covered by borrowing in the domestic market.











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