Anti-em­bez­zle­ment pric­ing fixes due by year-end

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS - WICHIT CHANTANUSORNSIRI

The re­vised ref­er­ence prices to be used for fu­ture auc­tions to pre­vent em­bez­zle­ment are ex­pected to be com­pleted this year.

The cur­rent ref­er­ence prices have been ex­ploited for bud­get em­bez­zle­ment or so-called “change money”, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Apisak Tan­tivo­ra­wong said, adding that if there is change money in auc­tions, it in­di­cates that the ref­er­ence prices are in­ac­cu­rate.

“We want the ref­er­ence prices to be able to re­flect the ac­tual price the most. Ref­er­ence prices should not be set far higher than the real prices,” he said.

The Fi­nance Min­istry has formed a com­mit­tee tasked with re­vis­ing the ref­er­ence price. The com­mit­tee is chaired by the head of the Comptroller-Gen­eral’s Depart­ment, and mem­bers in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the pri­vate sec­tor and aca­demics who have in­sight into gov­ern­ment bid­ding.

The panel hopes to gain the pub­lic’s trust and en­sure that the new ref­er­ence prices re­sult in less leak­age.

Mr Apisak him­self re­cently said that auc­tions over the past few years saw win­ning bids av­er­ag­ing 17-18% be­low the bench­marks. He said the Comptroller-Gen­eral’s Depart­ment should con­sider low­er­ing ref­er­ence prices to bet­ter re­flect mar­ket value.

In the mean­time, he moved to dis­pel the pri­vate sec­tor’s con­cerns that the new, stricter Gov­ern­ment Pro­cure­ment and Sup­plies Man­age­ment Act, ef­fec­tive from last Au­gust, would de­lay pub­lic in­vest­ment.

Mr Apisak said 55.6% of the an­nual in­vest­ment bud­get worth 577 bil­lion baht has been com­mit­ted dur­ing the six months to March, sug­gest­ing that the new law has not been the cause of de­lays in bud­get dis­burse­ment.

He said that the new law, based on OECD guide­lines, is aimed at pre­vent­ing cor­rup­tion in state bid­ding.

As part of anti-graft ef­forts, the gov­ern­ment has adopted an in­tegrity pact whereby pro­cure­ment for in­fras­truc­ture projects is mon­i­tored by ob­servers.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­tegrity pact, both state agen­cies and bid­ders are re­quired to de­clare that they will ab­stain from col­lu­sion, bribery and other forms of cor­rup­tion in the project.

Sig­na­to­ries also con­sent to let­ting a third party mon­i­tor the en­tire process, in­clud­ing bid­ding and transactions, to en­sure trans­parency.

To also en­sure that ob­servers are free from po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, they must be se­lected by the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Thai­land and the Joint Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Com­merce, In­dus­try and Bank­ing.

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