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‘Overwhelmed’ PACC detects graft at 5 more welfare centres

national March 20, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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ALLEGED IRREGULARITIES have been found at five more provincial protection centres for the destitute, bringing the total number of scandal-tainted centres to 49, with estimated total damages of Bt104 million, Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) secretary-general Korntip Daroj said yesterday.



Amid the spiralling graft scandal involving welfare centres across the country, Korntip also said that his commission was “overwhelmed” by the work load.

The five provincial centres recently identified are in Si Sa Ket, Khamphaeng Phet, Phang Nga, Sakon Nakhon and Chanthaburi.

The PACC board has also set up sub-panels to investigate seven centres for possible criminal prosecution of officials, with more centres to come under scrutiny this week, he said. 

Alleged wrongdoing at the five centres were similar to other cases discovered, with low-income earners and destitute people not receiving their entitled allowances in the full amount, while the names of people who were not qualified for allowances had been used in forged documents, Korntip said.

Regarding similar alleged graft at 32 self-help settlement centres nationwide, the PACC has found evidence at four centres indicating wrongdoing allegedly committed by high-ranking officials, Korntip said. 

Udon Thani’s Chiang Pin (with Bt7 million), Udon Thani’s Huai Sang (Bt5 million), Khon Kaen’s Ubolrat Dam (Bt11.7 million) and Satun’s Southern Development (Bt10.9 million) centres were found to be involved with “rather frequent” fund disbursement to vocational groups, he said.

The PACC would forward the cases to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which is authorised to investigate graft involving senior officials. The PACC would also ask the NACC to investigate other self-help settlement centres, as the PACC was overwhelmed, he said.

A trace of money transactions should be able to identify people who benefited from irregularities and embezzlement by the end of March, he said.

As for a separate inquiry into the Education Ministry’s “Sema Pattana Chevit Fund” for underprivileged children, Korntip said a report had been submitted and the PACC board would meet today to consider setting up a sub-panel to consider prosecutions.

In parallel to the PACC inquiry, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security – which is in charge of 43 self-help settlements and 16 highland people’s development centres as well as 76 provincial protection centres for the destitute – has conducted its own fact-finding investigations for disciplinary action.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday said the ministry’s investigation, which had led to the transfers of at least 22 officials, had found alleged graft at nearly 50 provincial protection centres for the destitute, in line with the PACC’s findings.

He said despite the corruption, projects to help underprivileged people should not be cancelled. Instead, allowances and fund disbursements should be shifted from cash payments to recipients to other channels such as PromptPay, he said.

PromptPay enables fund transfers using mobile phone numbers or citizen ID numbers. It can be used to receive payments from government agencies. 

Meanwhile, Social Development and Human Security Minister General Anantaporn yesterday led officials in taking an oath to be honest civil servants to advance the ministry’s strategies. The ritual was held at the ministry’s office at Phra Prachabodi Plaza in Bangkok.

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