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E-payments may be used to disburse state aid to the poor

E-payments may be used to disburse state aid to the poor

THURSDAY, March 22, 2018
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Prompt pay being considered as authorities mull measures to prevent corruption

AUTHORITIES ARE considering providing financial assistance from the state to poor people only via e-payments, so as to be able track them for transparency. 
Social Development and Welfare Department (SDWD) director-general Napa Setthakorn said yesterday relevant authorities had considered the measure in the hope of preventing corruption in the wake a recent nationwide scandal.
“We may also require that pictures of people receiving the help be taken,” Napa said. 
The Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has detected huge irregularities in the disbursement of state funds via protection centres to the destitute in 49 provinces. 
The centres are under the supervision of the SDWD.
Napa mentioned many measures could be introduced to prevent corruption, after she held a meeting with PACC acting secretary-general Lt-Colonel Korntip Daroj. 
During the meeting, the two discussed how to prevent the abuse of state funds for the destitute in fiscal year 2018.
Napa believed an e-payment system such as Prompt Pay could work, even for people living in remote areas. 
Given that Prompt Pay accounts are associated with mobile telephone numbers or national identification card numbers, it would be clear who are the recipients of state funds, Napa said.
The ongoing probe by the PACC has found that receipts for the funds, even signed, could have been forged. Available evidence suggests local officials forged signatures of poor people to embezzle money.
Napa said her agency had randomly checked documents about the disbursement of state funds, but found documents prepared by provincial centres were correct. 
The PACC started investigating protection centres for the destitute after a student from the Mahasarakham University, who was posted as a trainee at the Khon Kaen Protection Centre for the Youth and detected suspicious practices, blew the whistle. 
In a recent interview with The Nation, Korntip said he hoped state agencies would announce publicly who would be eligible to receive state funds or state-provided help, and how much money or help they would receive. 
“When people know their rights, they will protect them,” he said. 
Korntip pointed out how local people in Nakhon Phanom province had collaborated in gathering evidence of alleged irregularities after learning about the corruption scandal. 
“One of them recorded the voice of a school director who seemed to try to cover the corruption in his province while another took a picture,” he said. 
The clip and picture handed over to the PACC suggested that the school director had asked people to lie to the PACC and paid them between Bt50 and Bt100.