Rail link deal above board, says Saksayam
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Tuesday denied his ministry favoured the commercial interest of a major business in relation to a large-scale rail project linking three airports.
Mr Saksayam took to the House floor on the second day of the censure debate, and though he is not among the targets, he explained the transport and economic development contracts in response to questions directed at Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Gen Prayut was accused by the opposition of helping a major conglomerate secure a budget-intensive project to build a high-speed train linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports to serve the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative.
Mr Saksayam denied the existence of any irregularities, insisting the contract was not written to favour any particular company. He added that there was fair competition as 31 companies had vied for the project and that the bidding process was designed to generate maximum benefits for the country.
The opposition also alleged that more land was being handed over than specified in the contract. Mr Saksayam pointed out that it was initially agreed in the contract that at least 50% of the land must be handed over to the winning bidder as soon as the contract was signed.
However, he said, up to 70% of the allocated land was handed over to ensure the contractor had plenty of space to build the railway link and that there were no disruptions.
Mr Saksayam also denied that the authorities had reduced the fine that according to the contract should be imposed on the contractor for breaching the terms of the deal.
He said issues surrounding the fine had been closely scrutinised by the prosecutors.