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Trips not lavish: House official

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL of the House of Representatives yesterday denied he had abused the budget for MP salaries by sending secretariat officials on study trips abroad at inflated costs.

Suwichak Nakwatcharachai said the planning and approval of the excursions were transparent and the expenses were reasonable.

The Bt2-billion budget for salaries and allowances of MPs was still available for members of the National Legislative Assembly or reform council when they are set up by the junta, he said.

The House was dissolved even before the coup.

On Saturday, former Democrat MP Rangsima Rodrassami told a press conference that the purposes of the trips were unclear and they had been put on hold after alleged irregularities came to light.

However, Suwichak said overseas travel had been suspended because Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew, deputy director of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), had sent a letter to the House Secretariat asking for all projects to be delayed pending new policies from the junta. The educational trips were aimed at preparing House officials for the advent of the Asean Economic Community next year.

Each group was for 30 officials and they had to restrict expenses for each participant to Bt30,000.

However, certain countries would require more than Bt30,000 because the officials would have to fly from island to island.

A committee was set up to look into the "leak" of House documents to the public that led to the allegations, with the focus on Thayawan Supadit, chief of the academic and development coordination division of the Human Resources Development Office, he said, adding that he might have to sue Rangsima for ruining his reputation.

Rangsima said she had been informed of more alleged irregularities on such trips.

She called on the NCPO to remove Suwichak and form a panel to review budget outlays by the House and ask the National |Anti-Corruption agency to investigate him.


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