The labour minister has blasted the Social Security Office (SSO) for allowing a contractor to shut down the office's social security database.
Padermchai: Wants explanation
The database, which administers the Social Security Fund, went offline on Dec 31, 2012, after the SSO's contract with the SOA Consortium expired.
The database is now being administered manually.
Minister Padermchai Sasomsap said he had ordered the SSO not to extend its contract.
He made the order more than a year ago because the computer system was not functioning well, he said.
The contract was for five years and was worth 2.3 billion baht.
The minister said the SSO had more than enough time to arrange another database and should have been able to avert the shutdown.
The SSO allowed the contractor to hold the social security system data, which gave it leverage, he said.
The SOA Consortium had warned it would shut down the system unless the SSO extended its contract.
"We ordered the SSO to solve the problem," Mr Padermchai said. "The SSO had been aware for a year that the contract with the company would not be extended.
"It should have found a solution or a new contractor [in place] to maintain the database."
He has ordered the SSO to provide an explanation this week.
According to the minister, the SOA Consortium demanded 70-80 million baht for a three-month contractual extension. Pending the transfer of the data, SSO officials will serve customers manually.
The SSO plans to spend 10 million baht to purchase equipment to develop its own database. It expects its database to come back online in March this year.
Wilaiwan sae Tia, deputy chairwoman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, said her organisation told the SSO it should have more than one database contractor, to prevent the data from being used as leverage.
The SSO rejected the recommendation, she said.
Employers and employees might doubt the SSO's transparency while it handles the Social Security Fund's paperwork manually, she said.