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Despite Horrendous Green Record, Thailand Cuts Environment Funding for ’21

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A group of legislators from Thailand – among the world’s worst air and ocean polluters with a long track record of exploiting endangered wildlife and paving over nature – moved Friday to actually cut the budget for the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

During the third reading of the 2021 budget bill, which passed late last night and will be considered by the Senate next week, MPs argued the ministry’s should reduced because a number of issues, including water, wild elephants, land for people to make a living on and dust particles, have not been fully addressed, while also claiming that the functions of different agencies under the ministry are overlapping.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment initially requested a budget of 11.5 billion baht. The committee vetting the annual budget expenditure resolved to cut the amount by 483 million baht, or 4.2 percent.

MPs who supported the budget cut said the ministry’s agencies have been inefficient, and some of their functions are overlapping. They are not able to tackle several issues, such as particulate matter of 25 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5), conflicts between wild elephants and farmers, along with a shortage of land for people to use to make a living, forest trespassers and drought.

The legislators suggested that the ministry consider integrating the work of its agencies and cooperating with other units in order to solve problems in a sustainable way.