Monar­chy holds vast wealth

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

BANGKOK: Thai­land’s monar­chy, em­bod­ied for 70 years by King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, is a fab­u­lously wealthy in­sti­tu­tion in a coun­try where the widen­ing gap be­tween an af­flu­ent Bangkok and a poor but well-pop­u­lated coun­try­side has fu­elled years of po­lit­i­cal con­flict.

In 2011, Forbes tal­lied up the hold­ings of the Crown Prop­erty Bureau which an­swers to the Thai monarch and es­ti­mated Bhu­mi­bol’s wealth at more than $30 bil­lion. It owed much to re­search by Thai econ­o­mist Por­phant Ouyyant which made plain the enor­mous fi­nan­cial clout of the bureau. The Forbes listicle earned a re­buke from the US Thai em­bassy, which said the royal as­sets held by the bureau are not the king’s per­sonal prop­erty, but be­long to the in­sti­tu­tion of the monar­chy and are “held in trust for the na­tion”. That dis­tinc­tion is en­shrined in law, as is the tax­ex­empt sta­tus of the bureau, which has rev­enue of $2.5bn (R35bn) to $3bn a year, from which part of the royal fam­ily’s ex­penses are paid. – ANA-AP

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