B200m 'missing' from university aviation school's budget
published : 15 Jan 2021 at 15:50
writer: Pattanapong Sripiachai
NAKHON PHANOM: Nakhon Phanom University is investigating the disappearance of 200-million-baht from the budget allocated to its deeply troubled International Aviation College.
Acting university president Kittichai Triratanasirichai on Friday announced the inquiry into the financial flow of the missing money, and promised legal action against anybody illegally reaping benefits from the university purse earmarked to subsidise the college programme.
"I will await the result of the investigation before starting legal action," he said. A 15-day deadline had been given for officials involved to come up with an answer.
The International Aviation College has been operating at a loss since its inception in 2007 as a school to supply pilots to the aviation sector. It set its sights on being a regional training ground for new pilots.
The college was set up with a budget of 2 billion baht but failed to take off, with only three students enrolling for the first semester. It has 26 students at present. Its administration and other operating costs are about 3.6 million baht a month.
As the college sinks further into the red, its future hangs in the balance. However, Mr Kittichai promised to keep it open, and said he would try to find a better management plan for the school.
His pledge was made amid speculation that the acting president planned to shut the aviation school, prompting more than 30 college personnel to rally against the closure at the provincial hall on Monday.
Mr Kittichai was appointed acting president by the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry in November last year, to solve long-standing problems at the university.
The college's financial and other troubles came to light in 2016 after a plane used for training students crashed on June 2, killing two instructors and Yingyos Udonprim, the then-provincial administration organisation chairman of Maha Sarakham.
Yingyos had travelled by road from Maha Sarakham to Nakhon Phanom with his niece, Pattanaphong Wanchaneukruk, who took up a new job as vice president at the university on June 1.
Yingyos was due to attend an agricultural fair in Bangkok and could not wait for a regular flight. So he was being flown to Bangkok in one of the college's planes, a Diamond trainer.
The small aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Nakhon Phanom airport.
The Education Ministry and later the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry called for an investigation into the crash, including who authorised the flight.
The ministry reportedly has not yet received the findings. Deepening internal conflict between university executives is hampering the investigation.
There is also the issue of the unaccounted for and missing 200 million baht.