B1.3bn fund for army, air force 'will be scrutinised'

B1.3bn fund for army, air force 'will be scrutinised'

A 1.3-billion-baht fund, which was approved in a closed-door cabinet meeting this week, is accountable as it comes under the scrutiny of the state auditor, according to army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewthae.

His remark was consistent with the stance of acting prime minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon who said the fund was nothing out of the ordinary.

But the fund allocated to the army and the air force raised eyebrows as it was approved in secrecy by the cabinet.

Gen Narongphan said the fund was intended for paying personnel expenses. Of the 1.3 billion baht, the army receives the lion's share of 760 million baht and the air force 561 million baht.

"Don't worry about this fund. It is subject to the State Audit Office's scrutiny," the army chief said, adding the auditor comes in to check on such funds every year.

The check is mandated by the State Audit Act.

After running the check, the state audit normally makes a report containing details of the inspection, which is presented to parliament. Details are explained by the state audit and the Comptroller General's Department.

Gen Narongphan noted the army and most other state agencies have had to request additional funds to settle personnel expenses because the budget it earlier received for the purpose was not enough.

A source in the Defence Ministry said the fund had to be decided by the cabinet because the amount exceeds one billion baht. Any fund valued at less than one billion baht may be approved by the prime minister alone.

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