Watchdog calls on govt to probe Orange Line bids

Watchdog calls on govt to probe Orange Line bids

An anti-graft watchdog is urging the government to look into allegations of unfair competition in past bidding rounds for the right to jointly invest with it in the Orange Line's western expansion, as fears mount these violations could cost the government 69 billion baht in losses.

Closer public scrutiny is also encouraged on the roles of the government and other parties involved in the controversial implementation of the Orange Line project, the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Earlier last month the alleged transgressions came to light when the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) accused the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) of organising unfair competition in the bidding for the project, which had been delayed for almost two years.

Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) beat ITD Group, a joint venture between Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) and South Korea's Incheon Transit Corporation, to win the bid.

According to MFP list-MP Surachet Pravinvongvuth, speaking in his capacity as chairman of the House sub-committee studying large-scale infrastructure projects, if the first round of bidding had not been cancelled, Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) would have won and the government would have been required to only pay 9.67 billion baht to subsidise the project.

But with the BEM named winner in the second round, the government will now have to pay subsidies of up to 78.28 billion baht, a 68.61-billion-baht difference, he said. The House committee is investigating the matter.

"People are fed up with seeing the government repeatedly end up paying hefty financial compensation for such unsound decisions on project after project for the country's infrastructure development using taxpayers' money," said the ACT, which also cited other mismanaged projects including the Airport Rail Link.

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