Cabinet nod for public procurement draft
The cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill on public procurement, which will govern purchases made not only by all state agencies, but also by local administrative organisations, state enterprises, public organisations, independent organisations established under the constitution, state universities and state independent bodies.
Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the bill, once enacted, would help strengthen Thailand's competitiveness, as all public procurements would become standardised and transparent.
Mr Sansern said the Council of State had completed deliberations on the bill, which, if approved by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), would come into force three months thereafter.
The bill is targeted to replace regulations from the Prime Minister's Office on public procurement.
Procurement by local administrative organisations is currently not governed by the Prime Minister's Office.
Under the new law, both policymakers and operational-level officials would be subject to the same penalties if found guilty of corruption.
The new law sets the penalty for involvement in procurement-related corruption at one to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of 400,000 baht.
According to current penalties based on Article 157 of the criminal code, state officers found guilty of misconduct or dereliction of duty causing damage must be fined 2,000-20,000 baht and/or imprisoned for one to 10 years.
High-ranking officials, however, face a penalty two-thirds as severe.
Pending the law's approval, the Comptroller General's Department would draft regulations and announcements to comply with the new law.
According to Mr Sansern, the cabinet also yesterday endorsed an amendment to the Public Debt Management Act to make it compliant with international standards.
The amendment empowers the Finance Ministry to manage not only public debts caused by state agencies, but also agencies supervised by the government. It further caps the debt-to-GDP ratio at 44%.
According to Mr Sansern, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also authorised the Finance Ministry to supervise the debts of agricultural co-operatives.
The ministry would later establish a new unit to supervise debts of agricultural co-operatives, he said.
In related news, the cabinet yesterday approved measures to stabilise the rice price for the 2016-17 season, with a total budget 6.7 billion baht.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) would offer about 300 million baht in loans to agricultural co-operatives to buy rice and keep it at their warehouses and silos, with a target of 2.5 million tonnes of rice.
The government would subsidise 4% of the loan's interest, which means the co-operatives would only pay annual interest of 1%.
Farmers would also be allowed to borrow not more than 300,000 baht each from the BAAC to encourage them to keep rice at their warehouses.
The government aims to delay the sale of 2 million tonnes of rice for the season.
The stabilisation scheme is scheduled to be carried out between Oct 1, 2016 and Sept 30, 2017.