Saturday, July 21, 2007

Corrupt Constitution Printers Fleecing Thai Tax Payers for Profit

Blunder in printing of charter

Two officials stand accused of malpractice

Bangkok Post


The Constitution Drafting Assembly's sub-committee on charter production yesterday pointed a finger at two officials attached to the parliament secretariat over alleged malpractice in the 285-million-baht project to produce 20 million copies of the draft charter.

Siva Saengmanee, who chairs the CDA's charter production panel, said the legal team in charge of the terms of reference (ToR) and contracts had written the contract with the printing firms in a way which disregarded the CDA's directive. The CDA had specifically instructed that the ToR and the contracts must stipulate that the state-owned printing houses selected to print the copies must not sub-contract the work to private firms.

The ToR mentioned nothing about the ban and in the contracts which the printing houses signed, a clause was appended authorising sub-contract work in the event that the printers could not produce the copies in time.

Mr Siva said the CDA's original intention was to reserve the charter printing work for state-owned printing houses through a special procurement method. But that objective now seems to have been twisted, with private firms offered a slice of the budget.

Mr Siva's comment came after news reports suggested that eight out of the nine state-owned printing houses made gains of at least 10 million baht from the production of 20 million copies of the charter.

They were contracted by the parliament secretariat to print 20 million copies of the charter at 14.25 baht apiece.

However, they sub-contracted the job to privately-run printing houses at different prices. The price differences ranged from 1.41 to 2.25 baht per copy.

Mr Siva said the sub-committee assigned Prawit Tangjaiman and Supamas Noichan, who served on the panel, to coordinate with a panel drafting the ToR on which both of them served.

Mr Prawit is director of finance and budget attached to parliament and Ms Supamas is parliament's deputy secretary-general.

It turned out that the ToR drafting committee did not include this condition in the ToR and claimed that it was to prevent damage which might be caused by printing delays, said Mr Siva.

''The committee drew up the draft ToR for the country's interest but two officials dropped it without informing us. We learned about this from someone else,'' he said.

He said the two officials explained that ''they forgot'' to inform the sub-committee of the revised ToR.

Mr Siwa said the CDA's sub-committee might have opted for a bidding had it been informed that the ToR were revised, and the production costs could have been lowered to 11 or 12 baht per copy.

''What they did is against our objective. But I cannot tell if they have a vested interest in this,'' said Mr Siwa. He said the two officials would be held accountable if it was found out that they caused damage to the state. He said parliament's secretary-general would decide whether or not to investigate the matter.

The eight state-owned printing houses that sub-contracted the project are:

- The Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives's printing house. It hired a private operator to print 800,000 out of 1.5 million copies at 12 baht apiece.

- The Provincial Administration Department's printing house. It hired two private printing houses to print one million copies at 12.20 baht.

- The National Buddhism Office's printing house. It hired two printing houses to print 3.5 million copies for a price not disclosed.

- The police printing house. It hired two operators to print two million copies at 12.84 baht apiece.

- Thammasat University's printing house. It hired four printing houses to print two million copies at 12.60 baht.

- The cabinet and Royal Gazette printing house. It hired three printing houses to print two million copies at 12.84 baht and 13 baht apiece.

- Kurusapa Business Council's printing house. It hired two printing shops to print four million copies at six baht apiece, but the council paid for the paper.

- Rajabhat Suan Sunantha University's printing house. It hired a private operator to print two million copies for an unknown price.

Do the math: It looks like every public printing house is pocketing a couple million baht from subcontracting the work out to private contractors.

One has to wonder which generals and bureaucrats are pocketing the difference. Plus, the private printers are making a hefty profit on their transactions also.

Guess how much a copy costs to make in Thailand? 1 baht at your normal printing shop. For a large order like this, it should be less than 1 baht per page.

It makes me sick to my stomach that the juntacrats, who have incessantly praised their new constitution and want the public to embrace it wholeheartedly, would actually try to make a few baht from its printing. A constitution is supposed to be a sacred document, yet the first thing the juntacrats do with it is try to make some corruption money out of it.

Not a good omen.


Rich said...

I doubt the perpetrator will see it as corruption, probably 'justified tea money' or something. It should not come as any surprise that this happens in Thailand, the morality and integrity of the Thai is very poor.

I was interested in the new government initiative to ban the use of mobiles whil driving (except for hands-free). Just another law for the police to ignore - where is the point?


Jessdikenya said...

Does the entire body of the draft Constitution fit onto one page of copy.

No two printing houses will print the exact same draft. Typos, omissions, deletions and un-authorized insertions will spin havoc and reprints will be required as all households must receive identical drafts.

Can you do the math and tell us how much the postal service stands to make on delivery services?

I'm waiting for large quantities of the draft to mysteriously go missing (highjacked?) and undelivered -yet postage paid. Re-deliveries will be required of re-postaged re-prints.

Bye the way, are there enough brave postal employees availabe to deliver to every household in the Deep South? I'm certain all of Pattani is eagerly awaiting the draft. The Army will probably have to do it. It will be the perfect spying mission. Think about it; walking up to the front porch, and observing the goings on of EVERY houslhold in the Deep South.

Come to think about it, perhaps the Army should deliver EVERY draft. What a perfect oportunity for trained observation!

Let the fun begin.