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March 2016 : Draft Constitution Completed for Referendum

  • Draft constitution completed for a referendum
  • Interim constitution revised to allow for a referendum
  • A 2.991 billion baht budget estimated for referendum expense
  • Referendum: free comments but no directives
  • PM: Thailand will single invest in high speed train
  • 18 provinces designated drought area
  • Child allowance extended and increased
  • More 500 million baht allocated to Fishermen Loan
  • Anti-Human Trafficking Act amended
  • NLA passed the Anti-Begging Bill

    Draft constitution ready for a referendum

    On 29th March, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) submitted the final draft of the so called pre-referendum constitution to the cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly. On 30th March, the CDC explained all significant principles in a meeting and the draft constitution was distributed to the public since 31st March. It is anticipated a nationwide referendum will be held in August.

    After the constitution promulgated, 7 organic laws must be enacted within 8 months. The first 4 will be on the election of MPs, the selection of senates, the political party and the election commission. After these four enactments, the general election must be held within 150 days.

    Interim Constitution amended to pave way for a referendum

    On 22nd March, the Interim Constitution amendment was effective with minor revisions on Article 3 and 4 to pave way for a nationwide referendum. The amendments were to authorize the Election Commission to call for a referendum, organizing, regulating methods, procedures, and qualifications of the voters, publishing and disclosing the result. The referendum result will be decided by a majority vote and the Prime Minister will directly submit the constitution for royal endorsement within 30 days after the result announced.

    2.991 billion baht estimated for the referendum

    On 23rd March, the Election Commission disclosed its plan for the upcoming referendum expecting to be held in August 2016. All tasks will be commissioned to state agents by extraordinary obtaining. It is anticipated a total budget of 2.991 billion baht will be required to cover all expenses.

    Referendum: free comments but no directives

    On 30th March the chairperson of the constitution scrutiny extraordinary committee reiterated the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), not the Election Commission, is liable to explain the constitution content to the public since they are the most familiarize. Both the CDC and the political parties are free to comments on the draft constitution as far as their remarks are not directive to acceptance or denial. Fabrication comments are also prohibited and subjets to penalty. Balloting machines will not be used in the upcoming referendum.

    Thailand to single invest in high speed train

    On 24th March, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha referred to the revocation of Thailand and Republic of China joint investment in high speed train between Bangkok and Korat that Thailand has a capacity to be the single investor in rail line construction. He assured the northeastern region is affluent in natural resources, labor force and entrepreneurs. However, he foresaw a joint investment with private sector in providing trains and transport system.

    18 provinces designated drought area

    The Interior Ministry has designated 306 Tambons in 68 sub-districts 18 provinces the drought area since 23rd March. The residents will be provided with water for consumption through this dry season. A 50 million baht budget has been set aside for the provincial governors in emergency cases and the water works authorities are reiterated to properly manage to last the supply until the drought ends.

    Child allowance extended and increased

    On 22nd March, the cabinet resolved to extend the age of infants eligible to receive monthly allowance from 1 year of age to 3. The allowance is also increased from 400 baht to 600 baht. It is anticipated a first budget of 1.351 billion baht will be used from 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016. After reaching 3 years of age, all children can enroll to the state subsidy child care centers free of charge.

    More 500 million baht added to Fishermen Loan

    On 8th March, the cabinet resolved to allocate another 500 million baht to the Fishermen Loan, making a total budget of 1,500 million baht. Loan criteria are also revised such as:
    • The borrowers minimum age is lowered to 20 year old.
    • Grace period extends from 6 months to 1 year. During this period neither the capital nor interest shall be repay.
    • A 4% interest rate applies from the second to seventh year.

    Anti-Human Trafficking Act revised

    On 15th March, the cabinet resolved an amendment bill of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act A.D. 2551 to include committing corruption, facilitation, and purchasing/providing, transporting, detaining, confining, hiring and accepting goods and services to the violation.

    The A.D 2551 Act identified offences of human trafficking such as exploitation, forced labor or service, and organized criminal group.

    NLA passed the Control of Begging Act

    On 4th the National Legislation Assembly held a third reading of the Control of Begging Bill and passed with 178 to 2 and 7 abstentions. The Bill has principles to update the A.D 2484 Act to suit current social conditions by criminalizes begging in public area and regulates busking in exchange of donations. Begging is totally prohibited and liable to penalty unless the action is a performance of the beggars and those caught while begging on the street or homelessness will be rehabilitated and job training. The disable, elderly, mentally disorder and sick without supporters are entitled to be taken care by the state and will be provided with shelters and appropriate facility. Forcing, hiring, promoting or gain benefit from begging is a crime and penalty is both imprisonment and fine. Street performance required a notification in advance.

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