PM Warns the Unexpected Cost of a Constitutional Amendment as the Cabinet Yearns for Rewriting the Charter

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on warned that the cost of a constitutional amendment could reach 10 billion baht, as the cabinet approved a bill paving the way for the rewriting of the charter for national referendums.

Gen Prayut said on Tuesday that every referendum on constitutional amendments would require around 4 to 5 billion baht, with costs that include Covid-19 preventive expenditure. In the first referendum, according to political analysts, voters would decide whether they agree with the proposal to set up a charter drafting assembly to draw up a new charter.

If they do, then the process would be going forward. The new charter would then be put to a referendum again when the new body finishes the new charter. Citing an EC estimate, Gen Prayut said a referendum would normally cost about 3 billion baht to hold, but with the Covid-19 pandemic, another 1 billion baht would be needed to arrange more polling stations than usual so as not to overcrowd each station. Rachada Dhnadirek, a spokeswoman for the deputy government, said constitution section 166 allows the cabinet to hold a referendum on issues that do not violate the constitution.

Under the referendum bill, a vote will be direct and secret, she said, adding the bill is consistent with constitution section 256. The section stipulates that if a would-be amendment involves the process of amending the charter, the general principles chapters and the monarchy, a national referendum is required.

The section stipulates that if a would-be amendment involves the process of amending the charter, the general principles chapters and the monarchy, a national referendum is required. The next step is to forward the bill to the State Council — the legal advisory body of the Government — for scrutiny. Morever, Ms Rachada said the bill will then go to government whips who will submit it to parliament.

Related Article: https://www.theasianaffairs.com/thailand/2020/08/31/charter-bill-to-move-forward-gets-more-support/

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