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Thailand proposes 2% cut in 2023 defence budget

Janes Defence Budgets forecasts continued constraints in Thailand's military expenditure during the next few years. (Janes Defence Budgets)

Thailand has allocated THB197.29 billion (USD5.86 billion) for defence in 2023, according to a draft budget document approved by the Thai cabinet.

Figures in the draft budget bill show that the new defence budget is a 2% decline compared with the 2022 defence budget of THB201.66 billion.

The budget bill will be submitted to Thailand's House of Representatives in May for approval. Thailand's fiscal year starts in October.

According to a breakdown of the proposed 2023 defence budget, the Royal Thai Army (RTA) will receive the bulk of funding, with THB96.57 billion, a year-on-year decline of 3%.

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) will receive THB40.32 billion and THB36.11 billion, respectively. For the RTN, this represents a small increase of THB115 million, and for the RTAF, it is a decline of 4%.

Other recipients in the 2023 defence budget include the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which is allocated THB9.23 billion, and the Ministry of Defence's research and development agency, the Defence Technology Institute (DTI). The DTI's 2023 budget increased by 21% to THB504.6 million.

The reduction in the 2023 budget has been prompted by economic pressure stemming from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This pressure has also led to delays in several defence procurement programmes.

Such projects have included those to acquire additional main battle tanks, artillery, radars, and additional General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker 8×8 infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) from the United States.

Other delayed procurements include additional S26T diesel-electric submarines from China, upgrades for naval helicopters, and infrastructure developments.

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