PACC to probe suspected corruption in blanket procurement

The Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is to investigate suspected corruption in the procurement of blankets for poor people by the centres for the protection of the destitute of the Department of Social Development and Welfare.

The planned probe followed initial findings which show that the centre for the destitute people in Sing Buri bought blankets during the 2016 fiscal year at a price double that of market price.

Meanwhile, Mr Pisit Leelavachiropas, former auditor-general, called on PACC to investigate the blanket procurement by centres for the protection of the destitute throughout the country for 2016 fiscal year after the Office of the Auditor-General had raised objection against the procurement project since 2013, but the objection was ignored.

He said that he suspected that half of the budget allocated for blanket procurement had been embezzled by corrupt officials allegedly in collaboration with blanket sellers who substantially overpriced the products.

Mr Pisit pointed out that the blanket procurement project of the Department of Social Development and Welfare was a duplication of similar project of the other agencies and the budget for the project kept increasing every year.

An official document about budget for 2016 fiscal year obtained by the Thai PBS showed that Social Development and Welfare Department's for blanket procurement for the poor amounted to 240 million baht, constituting almost half of the budget allocated for destitute people which was found to be plagued with corruption.

The document also shows that the budgetary allocation for blanket procurement for each centre for the destitute varied from 70,000 baht to 4.8 million baht.

Si Sa Ket province was allotted with the lion's share of the budget totaling 4.8 million baht, followed by 3.6 million baht for Ubon Ratchathani and 2.8 million baht for Udon Thani.

The OAG uncovered the first case of corruption concerning blanket procurement in Sing Buri which was allocated with 480,000 baht fund to purchase blankets.

In the Sing Buri case, three bidders took part in the auction offering bidding prices at 400, 450 and 480 baht per piece. The successful bidder was the one who offered 400 baht. However, it was discovered that the actual market price was 199 baht per piece.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)