Parliament budget sheds 5 billion baht

Parliament budget sheds 5 billion baht

The new parliament buildings on the bank of the Chao Phraya, seen in this photo taken three months ago, are years behind schedule and billions of baht over budget. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
The new parliament buildings on the bank of the Chao Phraya, seen in this photo taken three months ago, are years behind schedule and billions of baht over budget. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The House of Representatives has decided to lower the cost of information and communication technology (ICT) systems for the new parliament back down to 3 billion baht.

Sorasak Pienvej, secretary-general for the House, said the revised budget will likely be forwarded to the cabinet on June 19.

The construction of the new parliament complex on Kiakkai Road drew heavy criticism when the ICT costs ballooned to 8 billion baht from the 3 billion baht proposed in 2013.

Critics include Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Witchitcholchai, both of whom have expressed suspicion over the cost.

The parliament's secretariat initially defended its budget request, citing the need for advanced technology for vote-counting and better security systems, among other requirements.

About 15.3 billion baht was set aside to build the complex in 2013 but the cabinet only approved 12 billion baht. The secretariat then excluded 3.5 billion baht in IT and public utility systems to cut the budget to just over 8 billion baht.

Mr Sorasak said Wednesday the plan to procure microphones and televisions would be scaled down because some equipment at the existing parliament can be transferred over.

The cost of public utility systems for the new complex stands at 587 million baht.

Mr Sorasak said more funds will need to be sought from the government to speed up construction.

A request for additional funding is likely to be submitted next year, he added.

However, he noted that the voting system cannot be reinstalled as it will be damaged during the removal process.

Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc was hired in 2013 as the contractor for the 12-billion-baht project.

The scheme was originally scheduled to be completed by 2015 but it has been plagued by a number of delays due to a range of issues.

These include the late handover of the plot of land and difficulty finding timber, which pushed the deadline to 2019.


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