The Move Forward Party (MFP) has initiated an inquiry into allegations of irregular expenditure related to an event organised by the Department of Rice. The party has warned that the incoming government will not tolerate rice corruption.
During a press conference, MFP deputy spokesperson Karoonpon Tieansuwan revealed that the party had received a complaint from officials within the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives regarding a lack of budget transparency for an event called “Rice Day and National Farmers.” The event took place from June 5-7 at the department’s headquarters.
Karoonpon explained that the budget request becomes even more dubious when considering the event’s entire timeline.
On February 20, the department allocated 15 million baht for the event, which aimed to share knowledge and best practices among rice farmers nationwide. The event was initially planned to be held in an event hall in Pathum Thani. However, a few weeks later, the department decided to hold the event at its headquarters, reducing the required budget to 7.5 million baht reports Bangkok Post.
On May 9, the decision was made to extend the event to three days instead of two. On the same day, the department increased its budget request to 12.5 million baht, a 5 million baht increase for organising an additional day of activities. This decision raised questions among the complainants.
Subsequently, the party discovered that only one of the four invited companies participated in the bidding for the event. Karoonpon mentioned that this company had secured many contracts from the Department of Rice. Moreover, a team of MFP members who attended the event reported that the number of visitors was significantly lower than the 30,000 the department had claimed in the bidding terms of reference. They also found that many of the event’s participants were paid to attend.
The party had previously estimated that state-owned agencies spent over a billion baht organising events annually. Karoonpon said…
“In an MFP-led government, it will not happen. Any improper budget must be cancelled, as they should be used to fund the country’s development and improve the quality of life.”
In response to the allegations of rice corruption, Department of Rice chief Nattakit Kongthip maintained that all procedures followed ministerial regulations and Cabinet resolutions.
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