Thailand officials caught cheating in name of disaster
Tue, Feb 16, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network

Disaster reports from six Northeast provinces have been found to be false and submitted by corrupt officials who wanted to get their hands on the Bt475 million (S$1.66 million) earmarked for emergency relief the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said yesterday.

The findings would soon be forwarded to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for a final decision on the indictment of a number of officials from district offices or local administrative bodies in Roi Et, Udon Thani, Kalasin, Surin, Nakhon Phanom and Sakon Nakhon, PACC secretary-general Phinyo Thonchai said.

The PACC also proposed that the word "disaster" be clearly defined in the regulation, so officials and contractors can be stopped from exploiting ambiguous interpretations.

Random inspections at the 168 sites given the "disaster-zone" tag uncovered several irregularities. For instance, officials had used the same photos over and over again in several different reports on flooding.

Also, several projects in a given district were awarded to the same contractor at sites that were inspected and approved by the same group of officials. In one district, one manager was found to be in charge of all projects as well as their inspection.

In addition, no blueprints or work plans were available for most of the projects, while several were awarded to unqualified contractors. In many cases government inspectors could not even locate projects or repair works that they had approved.

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