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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: B350bn water project hits corruption dam; Khon Kaen killer cop; Cheating teacher investigated

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Water projects may break corruption law
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The government might run into another serious legal problem; barely escaping the Administrative Court’s injunction last week, the Bt350-billion water-management project could be found to violate the Counter Corruption Act BE2542 (1999).

A source at the Comptroller General’s Department said on condition of anonymity that Article 103/7 of the act specified that government agencies must draw up an appraisal with details of expenditure on procurements, which must be revealed to the public via the Internet or through published media channels.

“In general practice, we set up the project before calculating its investment budget. However, for this water-management project, the government has created the budget before informing the public about the project details,” the department source said.

“The question is, how can they know how much money needs to be invested? The government has already set up the Bt350-billion loan to facilitate the project, so this indicates that the government has already calculated the budget to be allocated. If this is the case, why hasn’t the government presented the project to the general public?”

The government last week proceeded with the tendering process, as the Administrative Court turned down an injunction request filed by the Stop Global Warming Association. The request was filed on the ground that no project details were available before the tendering was kicked off. The investment scheme, touted by the government as a strategy to win back local and foreign investor confidence after the great flood of 2011, on Friday received bids from only four companies.

There has also been some effort to draw some of the investment to other projects not included in the nine infrastructure modules for the water project. Under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order, Bt10 billion would be allocated to the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development for the development of water infrastructure in the Eastern Seaboard – to ensure smooth operations of industrial plants.

According to a person familiar with the committee, of that Bt10 billion, the Agriculture Department is tapping Bt3 billion for its land-use zoning project. Another Bt2 billion is now being tapped to address water pollution in the East.

The subcommittee on water strategy in the |East is expected to review the spending plans worth Bt5 billion tomorrow.

The plans will be forwarded for the Cabinet’s approval on May 14. If approved, the committee will be able to borrow money for the projects.

If government agencies don’t adhere to Article 103/7 of the Counter Corruption Act, then under Article 103/8 of the same act the National Anti-Corruption Commission is obliged to report the issue to the Cabinet. The government can then order the agency to present the procurement information to the public. This must be done within 180 days after the project receives government approval, the source at the Comptroller-General’s Department added.

The department on April 22 just completed the new median prices of government procurement projects, to be in line with the adjustment in the daily minimum wage to Bt300.

The rise in the minimum wage has pushed up the cost of procurements by about 2.91 per cent on average.

“However, the cost increases vary from one procurement to another because of their different construction patterns,” the source said. “As a result, the government cannot apply the average increase of procurement cost to the appraisal adjustment. Nevertheless, the Comptroller-General’s Department has its own calculation formula for the appraisal adjustment, of which the government agencies have been advised.”

Policeman wanted for Khon Kaen killing
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police yesterday issued an arrest warrant for Khon Kaen’s Nong Rua deputy superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Somjit Kaewphrom, 43, after his subordinate implicated him as the man who shot dead the chief administrator of Khon Kaen’s Provincial Administration Organisation.

Suchart Kothum, 53, was killed in front of his Muang district home on Friday.

Royal Thai Police senior adviser Pol General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan said Somjit’s arrest warrant followed the earlier arrest of Pol Senior Sgt-Major Weerasak Chamnanpol, 37, in Maha Sarakham.

They allege that during interrogation, Weerasak confessed to being a target identifier for the team and also implicated his superior Somjit as the man who pulled the trigger.

Besides getting an arrest warrant for Somjit, Chalermkiat said police were now looking for two other members of the assassination team based on surveillance-video evidence, and a motive for the killing should be known after Somjit’s arrest. He said police would work with transparency to ensure justice for all sides.

Weerasak was brought for re-enactment to Suchart’s house at 1.30pm yesterday amid tight security. Onlookers included Suchart’s co-workers.

Provincial Police Region 4 deputy chief Pol Maj-General Sakda Techakriengkrai said both Somjit and Weerasak were initially dismissed from the civil service pending investigation. Weerasak is now detained at Muang Khon Kaen police station and police opposed his bail.

Meanwhile Nong Rua superintendent Pol Colonel Thanomsit Wongwijan said both men were good drug-suppression policemen and still came to work on Saturday before being out of reach by phone during the next two days.

A source at Suchart’s office, who asked not to be named, said a motive for the killing might stem from conflict over a local development budget.

Suchart’s royal-sponsored cremation rite will be held at Wat Srichan on May 15.

Education chief vows instant dismissal if DSI finds school director, assistant teacher guilty of cheating
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The education office chief of an allegedly corrupt school director and an assistant teacher in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday vowed to dismiss them from their posts if the Department of Special Investigation found them guilty of cheating in the latest assistant-teacher examination.

Wicha Manadee, director of Nakhon Ratchasima Primary Educational Service Area Office 2, said he was awaiting the results of the DSI’s investigation, which are due to be issued tomorrow, as the report would establish whether the two subordinates were guilty.

The two being investigated are Amphorn Thawannakul, director of Sema-uppatham School in Chakkarat district – and also a member of the subcommittee of the education area’s Office of the Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission – and Suchao Yatheelo, an assistant teacher working at Kong Rot Rat Samakkhi School in Huai Thalaeng district.

“If they are found guilty and the subcommittee agrees with the decision, I will order them to be dismissed from their positions immediately,” he said.

Amphorn had allegedly sold answers to Suchao, who achieved abnormally high scores in the assistant-teacher exam.

DSI officials on Friday raided Amphorn’s house in Muang district and found answers for the test-paper questions in all of the exam subjects.

They also found ev

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Thaiger

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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