THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly yesterday passed the national strategy bill in its first reading and went into executive session to pass the Royal Administration Act in three straight readings.
The strategy bill was approved for vetting by 196 votes with three abstentions.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam represented the Cabinet, which proposed the bill, to explain its principles to the legislators, saying the government was mandated by the new Constitution to complete the law within 120 days after its promulgation.
It takes top priority above any other plans and all agencies must comply or they will face legal consequences, he said.
“Such a plan to lay out a long-term national strategy for the next 20 years is indeed advantageous.
“It lets us see successive national development plans and makes it easy for budget allocations and investments,” he told the NLA meeting.
There would be sufficient public hearings on the bill. This was in line with Article 77 of the Constitution, which stipulates that agencies listen to the opinions of those affected by legislation or schemes, he said.
Some 15 representatives of the NLA spoke on the bill, raising four areas of concern. The prime concern centred on the proposed national strategy committee, which some NLA members referred to as a super board.
They questioned the diversity of the board’s composition and proposed that experts in legal, labour and international affairs be included.
Others wondered why top security brass such as the chiefs of the four military branches and the police had to sit on the board.
Wissanu said these senior officers would help oversee security issues addressed in the national strategy.
As for diversity, the working committees would lay out the actual national strategy plans and more experts could be brought in to provide inputs, he said.
The NLA members also extensively questioned public participation.
Wissanu said participation of the public was given considerable thought. They would be able to participate twice: first, when the strategy was completed, and then when it was revisited based on opinions in the first round. He said more participation would not be practical due to the limited timeframe.
The other two areas were the details of strategies and the timeframe of 20 years.
Wissanu responded that they were flexible and could be revised by the super board according to the changing circumstances.
A committee of 33 members, six representing the Cabinet, would scrutinise the bill for up to 60 days before it went through a second reading.