Royal wealth extraction

19 01 2021

Readers may recall the demonstration at the Siam Commercial Bank, where the king is the largest shareholder, when activists “demanded public oversight of … Vajiralongkorn’s vast wealth…”. In our view, the king’s control of huge wealth is as significant as his political meddling. And, perhaps more important than his personal wealth, and how he and his forebears got it, is the huge piles of taxpayer’s money that “supports” the monarchy.

Helpfully, and in the current circumstances, bravely, Prachatai has posted on these topics.

On the money sucked from the taxpayer, the Prachatai report states:

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.

That’s a lot of money – more than $1 billion! Helpfully, there’s considerable detail, all extracted from the Budget Bureau’s reports. The report states that “many of the projects among the indirect expenses are for the public benefit.” We are not convinced. After all, money sucked out of the public purse to glorify the monarch is money lost to other possibly good purposes.

The Royal Offices alone get more than 8.98 billion baht in 2021, up almost 17% over 2020. Meanwhile, the Thai economy languishes and millions are struggling to make ends meet. By 2024, this budget is forecast to increase to almost 10.7 billion baht by 2024, up almost 40% over 2020.

We at PPT also wonder if the figures mined by Prachatai are complete. For example, does it include the budget for the hugely expensive royal projects? Our feeling is that the monarchy east far more taxpayer wealth than we are seeing here.

Further information on how the monarchy accumulated its wealth is covered in a second Prachatai report. This is mainly focused on historical wealth. We guess it is too difficult and potentially dangerous to add up Vajiralongkorn’s many property grabs.





High cost of royal security

6 09 2019

The Business Times has an AFP report that states:

Thailand plans to allocate more than US$251 million for monarchy “security” in the 2020 budget, a hike of more than 13 per cent year-on-year, according to figures confirmed by a government spokesperson on Thursday.

That’s significant, especially as the king and son, his main wife and concubine seem to spend a lot of time out of the country. Perhaps the figure includes overseas security as well, but we don’t know.

At present exchange rates, the USD figure is about ‭7,690,640,000‬ baht. The last official figure we saw was for 2019, at the Budget Bureau in the late 2019 publication “Thailand’s Budget in Brief,” for 2019. In that, the budget for National Security, the amount allocated for the monarchy was 5,651,000,000 baht. We are not sure if our figures are those used by AFP, but if they are, then the increase is ‭2,039,640,000‬ or more than 36%.





Taxpayer support to the monarchy

26 04 2016

Over the past few years PPT has collected and posted information derived from the Budget Bureau on the officially declared spending on the monarchy in Thailand (see our 2015 post as an example).

This calculation is that declared as “promoting and protecting the monarchy,” and is in addition to any deals done with individual royals, the Crown Property Bureau and any additional funds that are allocated after budgets are initially drawn up. As far as we know, it does not cover things like funding to the police, military and courts, etc. for hunting lese majeste offenders, putting them through the courts and keeping them in jail.

While we are sure there’s lots more spending on royal stuff hidden away in various budget lines, these estimates from the Budget Bureau can be considered a minimum cost to taxpayers.

In 2016, it seems that the figure is 18 billion baht. That this is an increase over 2015 should not surprise as there have been substantial increases in recent years, under both the Yingluck Shinawatra government and the military junta.

In the graph, we have collected the data we have and expressed it in billions of baht.

The impost on taxpayers has increased 68.2% since 2012.

Money for the richest





Is universal health care too expensive?

7 01 2016

The military junta has, several times, floated the idea of changing the universal health care system in Thailand, introduced by Thaksin Shinawatra’s government from 2001. Each time they have, the regime has then retreated. Most recently, the “promise” to keep the scheme has sounded far less certain, with The Dictator stating, “that it was impossible for the programme to cover all the 70 million population as that would require a huge amount of budget that the government could not afford.”

As a result, doctors reportedly continue to worry about funding for the scheme. Some doctors prefer a privatized health system as this increases their incomes.

So how much does the coverage of all Thais and quite a few migrant workers cost? In a recent Prachatai report, some figures were provided.

Working on a population of 65 million and breaking down costs for bureaucrats (who continue to have a gilt-edged scheme), social security fund members and the general public, it is estimated that the total cost of health care for all Thais is between 18 and 30 billion baht a year.

Disclaimer: We can’t vouch for their accuracy, but as their are ranges used, we guess that the figures are good enough to make some comparisons. When we checked, the Budget Bureau figures for health care in 2015 seemed reasonably close to the top estimates in the Prachatai report. We welcome corrections.

Is 30 billion baht huge? Khaosod, reporting on the military budget states: “The budget to solve the problem in the south in fiscal 2016 consists of 30.176 billion baht…”.

If the military budget for operations just in the south, consider the funds allocated to maintaining the royals and their various projects in 2015: this was about 107 billion baht. The amount allocated to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary and the Royal Household Bureau alone was almost 4.2 billion baht.

On this basis, the amount spent on the health of 65 million Thais seems quite reasonable.

 





270 baht from each man, woman and child

25 09 2014

How much does it cost to “honor” the monarchy “sufficiently”? For the coming year, Prachatai does the math, based on information published by the Budget Bureau.

The military dictatorship established following May’s coup has wrapped itself in royalist legitimacy – as so many rightist military leaders have done since the 1950s. This latest effort has seen the “national budget for honouring the royal family” skyrocket by about 20% to “17 billion baht or about US$536 million next year.”Senile king

This is the money the taxpayer pays out for the richest monarchy in the world.

This budget “for preserving the honour of the royal household in 2015 will exceed the budget allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and five other ministries.”

Prachatai does some calculations: “32,854 baht or US$1,019 per minute” or “1,971,262 baht or US$61,168 per hour” or “47,310,290 baht or US$1,468,038 per day.”

As might be expected, the National Legislative Assembly reached consensus on the royal budget in quick time. The budget for honoring the royal family is used in many ways, with Prachatai noting that the funds are “distributed to public agencies to print posters of the royal family members, build monuments, and organize events on important occasions relating to the monarchy, such as HM the King’s Birthday which also doubles Father’s Day.”

The budget for “honoring the royal family” over the past three years has been almost 14 billion, 11.2 billion and 10.7 billion baht. The increase over the past few years has been about 70%.





13,869,660,200 baht

21 08 2013

That’s how much it will cost in the coming year to revere the monarchy. Here we refer only to the cost to the taxpayer as set out by the Bureau of Budget. Recall that this monarchy is often ranked as the wealthiest in the world.

PAD protester

Give them more!!

That huge, mind-boggling figure is about US$436,360,620.

In 2011 it was 10,781,250,000 baht.

In 2012 it was 11,208,800,975 baht.

The increase over three years is over 20%.

The British monarchy cost their taxpayer about 31 million pounds or about 1,500,000,000 baht. We know this because the royals there produce an 80 page report each year on their grants from the state.

This means the Thai monarchy gets almost 10 times more that the British monarchy! Each year!

 





Supporting royalism 2013

9 06 2013

Some two years ago, PPT posted a comment based on a New York Times report by Thomas Fuller. In a long post on royal wealth, we noted this:

Fuller adds that income from the CPB [Crown Property Bureau] “is separate from the approximately $350 million in taxpayer money allocated for the royal household, royal-led development projects and other expenses related to the royal family.”

PPT added:

In fact, PPT thinks $350 million of taxpayer money is an under-estimate. For example, in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s last budget the first three lines of the Ministry of Finance’s allocation was for royal things and amounted to about $100 million. Line after line in the budget allocates funds to the royals. This is public information, but as far as PPT knows, going through the Budget Bureau’s allocations has not been a task yet completed.

Now doing the rounds of the social media is this estimate for 2013, and drawn from the Budget Bureau. Our version is sent to us by a reader who says it is a Facebook translation provided via Andrew MacGregor Marshall. PPT edited some of this but didn’t change the data:

… according to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget Act:

– Expenses related to Royal Development Projects – 2,300,000,000 Baht (US $76.67 Million)

– Expenses related to traveling and welcoming foreign Heads of States – 700,000,000 Baht (US $ 23.34 million)

– Layout of plans for cherishing, safeguarding and protecting the monarchy institution to these government organizations:

1. Office of the Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister – 635,066,000 Baht (US $ 21.2 Million)

2.  Office of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister – 2,104,446,500 Baht – (US $ 70.15 Million)

3.  Minister of Defense (22,760,700 Baht – (US $ 0.76 Million)

4.  Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp Department – 580,426,700 Baht (US $ 19.35 Million)

5.  Royal Thai Armed Force Headquarters = 260,000,000 Baht (US $8.67 Million)

6.  Royal Thai Army – 320,000,000 Baht (US $ 10.67 Million)

7.  Royal Thai Navy – 12,246,100 Baht (US $ 0.41 Million)

8.  Royal Thai Air Forces – 23,500,000 Baht (US $ 0.78 Million)

Grand Total: 6,958,446,000 Baht (approximately US $232 Million) per year

The version sent to us adds this, which confirms our earlier comment above on needing to drill down on the budget:

In an addition, several individuals provided the comments that most governmental branches are required to use their own annual budget to allocate for “cherishing, safeguarding and protecting the monarchy institution” on the top of the Official Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

The Thai of the translation  above is:

… ตาม พ.ร.บ.งบประมาณรายจ่ายประจำปีงบประมาณ พ.ศ.2556 ต่อไนี้หน่อยครับ (เพื่อนลิงค์มาให้ตามโพสต์ด้านล่าง)

 – ค่าใช้จ่ายตามโครงการอันเนื่องมาจากพระราชดำริ 2,300,000,000 บาท

– ค่าใช้จ่ายเกี่ยวกับการเสด็จพระราชดำเนินและต้อนรับประมุขต่างประเทศ 700,000,000 บาท

– แผนงานเทิดทูน พิทักษ์ และรักษาสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์ จัดให้หน่วยงานหลักดังนี้

(1) สนง.ปลัด สำนักนายกรัฐมนตรี 635,066,000 บาท

(2) สำนักเลขาธิการนายกรัฐมนตรี 2,104,446,500 บาท

(3) กระทรงกลาโหม 22,760,700 บาท

(4) กรมราชองครักษ์ 580,426,700 บาท

(5) กองบัญชาการกองทัพไทย 260,000,000 บาท

(6) กองทัพบก 320,000.000 บาท

(7) กองทัพเรือ 12,246,100 บาท

(8) กองทัพอากาศ 23,500,000 บาท

If readers go back to the 2012 budget (clicking downloads a very large PDF in English), the centrality of the expenditures on and for the monarchy indicates how debased ideas about “national security” have become. In fact, these allocations are evidence of the extent of the warping of public public policy required by monarchism:

The FY 2012 budget allocation consists of 8 strategies and a list of expenditures on general administration under 49 programmes. Important aspects of the strategy can be summarized as follows:

Strategy 1 : Building of foundation for a balanced development towards the society….

Strategy 2 : National Security

The government has allocated the budget for protecting national security, upholding and preserving the monarchy and maintaining domestic order by strengthening and developing readiness and potential for the national defence system….

The amount of 190,300.9 million baht, equivalent to 8 per cent of the total budget, is allocated for this strategy and can be classified by the following programmes.

2.1 Programme on upholding, protecting and preserving the monarchy

The amount of 11,208.8 million baht will be allocated to uphold, protect and preserve the monarchy from any offenses by providing a security system and organizing events on upholding the monarchy at appropriate occasions. In addition, His Majesty’s suggestions will be implemented along with the promotion and promulgation of the Royal Projects to make people aware of his kindness and maintain their loyalty to the monarchy and the fact that the Thai society is the society of unity and sufficiency living.

2.2 Programme on national defence

The amount of 164,615.4 million baht will be allocated to strengthen and develop the national defence system to be prepared with potentials to protect independence, sovereignty, security and national interests from internal and external threats….

2.3  Programme on maintaining domestic order

The amount of 14,476.7 million baht will be allocated to preserve national interests and maintain domestic order….