No-show MPs rack up B5m in flights
The House of Representatives has been asked to pay for five million baht's worth of reserved airline tickets by two major budget carriers after many MPs booked flights but failed to take them, Democrat Party list-MP Boonyod Sooktinthai revealed Thursday.
- Published: 20/06/2013 at 05:54 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Of the total, the Secretariat of the House of Representatives received 4.3 million baht in bills for collection from Nok Air and 700,000 baht from Thai AirAsia.
The expenses arose between October last year and April this year, Mr Boonyod said in his capacity as spokesman for the House committee on parliamentary affairs.
He said the committee had discussed the issue with concerned agencies and found the cause of the no-shows that resulted in a surge in airfare costs stemmed from flight reservations made redundant by MPs and their assistants. Flights were also cancelled at the last minute because MPs had to attend a parliamentary session or performed duties elsewhere.
An MP can travel to and from home or anywhere in the country to perform official duties by plane for free during parliamentary sessions and recesses.
MPs who are members of House committees can also travel abroad on official trips for free.
Mr Boonyod said the unpaid bills had defects because they did not have the signatures of MPs who had booked flights. Also, documents issued by the parliament to be used as evidence for air travel did not have the required signatures either, he added.
The committee spokesman said Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt had proposed the operators of low-cost airlines issue plane tickets for MPs based on quotas without identifying their individual names so that any MP who books a flight could transfer their quota to another MP if they wanted to cancel the ticket.
He also suggested the airlines’ bills have attached the signature of a travelling MP as evidence before they are sent to the Secretariat of the House of Representatives.
Korrawee Prissananantakul, assistant to the secretary-general of the committee, said the panel had invited representatives from the two discount airlines to discuss the unusual increase in the airline service fees for MPs. Both Thai AirAsia and Nok Air delegates insisted that booking a flight would incur an airfare charge, according to the airlines’ policy.
However, there were some cases of irregularities in the carriers’ bills for collection, Mr Korrawee said. For example, the name of an MP appeared on two flights at the same time on the same day and an MP was said to have a seat on a flight from Ubon Ratchathani province at 9am and at 11am on the same day.
Mr Korrawee said the management of the two airlines would discuss the matter and propose measures to prevent a repeat of the problem.
Chutinan Davison, senior finance and accounting specialist at the House’s Bureau of Finance and Budget, said the bureau had paid a large sum of money for airlines’ no-show penalty charges by MPs between 2011 and 2012.
The agency would summon those cancelling their trips to hear reasons for their no-shows. They would be charged retroactively for the paid tickets if they were found not to show up because of personal reasons, she added.
About the author
- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
- Position: Reporter