Expert calls for clarity in army, state agency assets
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Expert calls for clarity in army, state agency assets

Panitan: 'We need more transparency'
Panitan: 'We need more transparency'

A security expert has proposed scrutinising military and state agency assets through regulated financial accounts and expenditure disclosure, for the sake of transparency.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an independent academic in security and foreign affairs, told the Bangkok Post the ministries of Education, Higher Education Science Research and Innovation and Finance are the top three ministries in terms of revenue management.

The transparency of their revenue management and asset use are questionable.

The ministries of Energy and Defence are also among those needing more transparency.

The security agency has been monitored by the opposition Move Forward Party since the coup, Mr Panitan said.

The combined revenues of each security agency put together, including the police, are still lower than the top three ministries.

"The system adjustment for asset management of state agencies has been included in the national strategy for transparency.

"Indicators will be set for each ministry every 2-3 years to set a clear direction," said Mr Panitan.

However, it seems a lack of budget is one of the factors slowing down the process of developing an indicator, he added.

"Both the opposition and the government may not be familiar with such a strategy as it was not initiated by them and they may not understand its tools for system readjustment," he said.

Regarding the army's assets, he suggested checking the army's account management to review its assets, revenue and expenses as its accounts are divided into state budget and unofficial finance.

The businesses operated by the army are easily distinguished from security affairs and border matters, such as the contrast between military functoions and a golf course.

Mr Panitan said some revenue is not sent to the central budget, so the figure is vague and hampers people from accessing the data.

Asked about budget leaks, he said such money might reach the hands of influential figures -- which will make the examination more difficult.

The examination can be carried out by legislators, but they need to discuss what details they can disclose to avoid any impact on security matters.

"An interesting method is to look into the assessable expenditure information in place of revenue, such as state-operated hotels and golf courses, and question individuals about suspicious figures," he said.

The newly established board of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) may look into the matter.

However, the process requires an exact amount of revenue of each ministry for assessment.

"But we need to be fair with state agencies as they may lack the budget needed to carry out tasks given by the government.

"That's why we then have to check if the budget is insufficient or being leaked out, or if they have failed to include the budget sought from other sources," he said.

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