October 02, 2013 00:00 By Suphannee Pootpisut
Areepong being moved to lower post though one year remains in term
The Finance Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Rungson Sriworasat, is expected to be promoted to permanent secretary soon, replacing Areepong Bhoocha-oom, who was transferred to secretary-general of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC), said a ministry source.
The Cabinet approved the transfer of Areepong yesterday and appointed Rungson as acting permanent secretary, according to spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi.
Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said Areepong was being transferred on the request of Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana, to help the OPDC improve the government’s bureaucratic system. The Finance Ministry has been so far winning high scores in excellence tests. Thus, Areepong's knowledge and experience will serve his new responsibility well, Kittiratt said.
According to the Finance Ministry source, who asked not to be named, the move was not unexpected, as rumours about Areepong’s transfer had been circulating for several months.
The source added that there was a high chance that Rungson would be appointed the new permanent secretary at next week’s Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet cannot make the appointment immediately as it has to wait until Areepong is royally endorsed in his new post, which will make his previous position vacant.
Although there remains one more year in Areepong’s term, the source added that Cabinet might have seen the need to appoint a new person to respond to the government’s policies, particularly in the rice pledging scheme. A subcommittee chaired by deputy permanent secretary Supa Piyajitti attributed a large amount of financial damage to the programme.
Supa’s subcommittee has not yet concluded the damage, while the programme rolls into the third year. There was an outcry over excessive spending in the programme, while the Commerce Ministry has been tight-lipped on the proceeds of its releases of rice from its stockpiles.
Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan yesterday reported to the Cabinet that the government was ready to proceed with the rice pledging scheme for the 2013-14 harvest season that officially started yesterday, although some rice mills and warehouses have not yet finished inspecting their stockpiles from the previous crops.
The stockpiles need to be clearly separated to ensure that this year’s pledging scheme will be handled in a transparent manner.
Niwatthumrong expects that rice farmers will gradually sign up for the programme through this month. Expenditure for the project is not to exceed Bt500 billion.
Rungson was on Deputy Finance Minister Benja Louichareon’s team probing the value-added-tax fraud case in the Revenue Department.
The Cabinet in August 2010 approved the appointment of Areepong as the new permanent secretary for the Finance Ministry.
Before that, Areepong was director-general of the Excise Department. He beat several other candidates, notably Dr Ampon Kittiampon, the secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, to gain the top bureaucratic position in the Finance Ministry.
Before the transfer, Areepong accepted the government’s conditions. He agreed not to take important positions, as a finance permanent secretary normally does, such as board chairman of major state enterprises Krungthai Bank, Government Savings Bank and the Government Lottery Office.