Flood donations abused, Bin admits

Flood donations abused, Bin admits

Prawit says actor has duty to prevent graft

Flood victims are receiving cash from actor and rescue volunteer Bin Bunluerit, right, in Warin Chamrap district, Ubon Ratchathani province, on Sept 17. (Army photo)
Flood victims are receiving cash from actor and rescue volunteer Bin Bunluerit, right, in Warin Chamrap district, Ubon Ratchathani province, on Sept 17. (Army photo)

Actor and volunteer rescue worker Bin Bunluerit must ensure that flood relief cash donations he received from the public are not abused, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Monday.

Gen Prawit was responding to social media complaints that some community leaders were taking a cut from recipients eligible for relief funds raised by Bin. The donations are going to victims in flood-ravaged provinces, including worst-hit Ubon Ratchathani, in the Northeast.

The community leaders were reportedly entrusted by Bin to compile a list of residents to receive the cash donations.

A Facebook page called "Nok Krajok" (Sparrow) alleged that local leaders were collecting between 300 and 500 baht as a "paperwork fee" from flood victims who were entitled to receive 5,000 baht per head from the donations. Local officials were also adding names of residents unaffected by the floods to the donation recipient lists, the page claimed.

On Monday, Gen Prawit said demanding fees from victims was an act of corruption, adding that Bin had a duty to ensure the donations were not tainted by graft.

Meanwhile, Bin admitted that relief funds had been abused, describing the actions as "deplorable".

He said victims had willingly paid the "paperwork fee" because they were afraid that local leaders would not include them among the recipients. He said he knew the culprits' names and was taking legal action against them.

The actor has said that donations he has collected -- which have exceeded 400 million baht -- can reach flood victims more quickly because they are not controlled by the state.

He said on Monday he had tightened up donation auditing by asking chiefs of the flooded districts and the tambon administrative organisations to check the names of flood victims before money is handed to them.

The actor said he has so far disbursed 32 million baht of donated money, which should reach every household affected by the floods before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the floods in Ubon Ratchathani should subside by the end of this month, deputy provincial governor Wirute Wichaiboon said.

Flooding brought by tropical storms Podul and Kajiki hit 419,988 households across 32 provinces and caused 35 deaths, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

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28 Jul 2021