Cabinet approves dismissal of GPO chief
- Published: 21/05/2013 at 06:53 PM
- Online news:
The cabinet on Tuesday approved the immediate dismissal of managing director Witit Artavatkun from the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, as proposed by the Public Health Ministry.
Lt Sunisa Lertpakawat, deputy government spokeswoman, said the ministry proposed the firing of Dr Witit after an investigation of irregularities in the procurement of 148 tonnes of paracetamol ingredients, and the delayed construction of an anti-influenza vaccine factory in Rangsit, Pathum Thani province.
The result of the first probe indicated there was no production plan and no secure storage, with 40 tonnes of ingredients still left from an urgent purchase. These factors showed that Mr Witit had made careless decisions, resulting in a burden on the GPO and tarnishing the organisation's image.
On the factory construction, the investigation centered on temperature controls, and whether the system could work properly.
Cabinet approved the dismissal of Witit Artavatkun from his post as managing director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO).
Since February, Dr Witit has faced a continuing series of investigations ordered by the Public Health Ministry and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
The probes led the GPO's board to dismiss him from his post on Friday. Dr Witit held the post since 2007.
Lt Sunisa said Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua proposed that the the cabinet simply acknowledged the GPO board's decision, rather than approve it. The Council of State representative said the cabinet had to approve the decision as it is mandatory under the law.
"The cabinet was uncomfortable approving this proposal because the cabinet members did not know facts about the investigation. The cabinet just approved it as required by the 1992 Public Health Act," the spokeswoman said.
The dismissal of Dr Witit created controversy, as he had moved the GPO from a loss-making organisation to a profitable one.
There also was speculation of political motive, such as preventing corruption by certain political circles.
A former public health minister, Mongkol Na Songkhla, said sacking Dr Witit without compensation was a strong violation of employment contract. He viewed Dr Witit as a good person working for the benefit of the Thai public health system.
He said no organisations were willing to handle construction of the vaccine factory, but Dr Witit took up the job to help ensure that Thai people will have vaccine available in case of future outbreak.
Dr Mongkol said the delay in construction of the vaccine factory was from lack of knowledge, but pointed out that delays in hospital construction had escaped accountabililty.
"All reasons to dismiss Dr Witit are unacceptable. Other agencies from now on should be treated equally. What happened to Dr Witit made me ashamed to be a Thai," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat