NLA seeks temporary venue for parliament
The National Legislative Assembly is looking for a temporary venue for parliamentary sessions while it waits for a new building that is scheduled to open in the middle of next year.
Because the land where the current Parliament House is situated is scheduled to be returned to the Royal Household Bureau by the end of this year as construction of the new complex in Kiak Kai nears completion, lawmakers have begun to seek out temporary venues to hold meetings for the NLA and the Lower House, whose members will be elected in February next year.
"There are five venues on our list," said NLA vice-president Surachai Liengboonlertchai, who has been assigned to chair a working panel to find a suitable temporary meeting venue.
Mr Surachai said he will lead authorities to inspect the venues next week.
Among the venues being considered are the United Nations auditorium on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, the meeting halls at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus and the 1st Army Headquarters, TOT conference room on Chaeng Watthana Road and Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre on Ratchadaphisek Road, near Rama IV Road.
The panel will use several criteria to choose the most appropriate venue. "Among them are convenience and rent rates," he said.
A source close to the matter said that the TOT conference room is the panel's favoured venue, because it can house more than 500 people, and is equipped with the necessary facilities.
If the NLA chooses the TOT conference room, it will have to pay 80,000 baht for eight hours -- four hours in the morning and another four in the afternoon.
The source said the NLA is likely to ask TOT to reduce the rate to 60,000 baht under a one-year contract.
The new parliament building, named "Sappaya-Saphasathan", was originally scheduled to finish in 2015 as stipulated in a contract signed in 2013. It sits on the bank of the Chao Phraya River and covers 300,000 square metres of land.
However, the construction faced numerous delays due to the slow handover of the site to the contractors, problems with soil removal, as well as several requests for design changes and a longer construction period.
Former secretary-general of the House, Charae Panpruang, who oversaw construction of the new building, was transferred to an inactive post in 2015 by the National Council for Peace and Order, citing the lack of progress in the project.