MPs see catering budget survive scrutiny

MPs see catering budget survive scrutiny

Parliament’s providing resources remains alive despite calls from MPs for better control to minimize waste and save people funds spent subsidising meals and drinks for lawmakers.

During the investigation of Segment 30 of the Budget Bill for the 2024 fiscal year, which dealt with parliament’s costs, Pheu Thai MP for Phrae Thosaporn Sereerak proposed that the money set aside for catering services for MPs and senators may be trimmed due to the large amount of residual food.

He said that although lawmakers are allowed to take home or give to the poor any excess food, it is not considered a sustainable solution. The funds for dinner meals should be cut, he said.

Deputy House Speaker Pichet Chuamuangphan defended the catering budget, saying MPs ‘ and senators ‘ work schedules are unpredictable and meals must be provided for them at their convenience.

He said parliament is aware of the leftover food and has tried to address the issue, including allowing MPs and parliamentary officials to take it home.

Also raised during the debate was the proposed cut of 998 million baht earmarked to fund a housing project for parliamentary officials by the special House committee vetting the Budget Bill.

Pheu Thai MP for Nong Bua Lam Phu Phitsanu Hatthasongkroh said the budget was cut pending the completion of an environmental impact assessment report. The House voted to pass this section by a count of 283 in favour, 145 against and one abstention.

The catering budget caught the public’s attention last year when a clip went viral showing Move Forward Party ( MFP ) MP Sirilapas” Mew” Kongtrakarn taking food from the canteen home.

According to news reports, the total budget for catering services for the 2023 fiscal year was 108 million baht.

About 72 million baht was set aside for catering services, which is about 1, 000 baht per head per day for two meals– lunch and dinner– as well as morning break snacks provided on meeting days, while extra meals are also provided if the session extends past 8pm.

In addition, 34.8 million baht was set aside for catering services for House committee meetings, while 1.26 million baht was allocated to provide catering services for opposition whips.