Democrats urge Yingluck to investigate China rice deal

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - The Democrat Party yesterday urged Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to investigate alleged irregularities in the government-to-government rice deal with China.

"If she's sincere about her vow to combat corruption, she must do it," Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said.

Although Yingluck survived last month's no-confidence debate, the alleged graft in her government's rice dealings has continued to haunt her.

Opposition MPs have been digging deeper into this hot issue.

According to the Democrat Party, the Thai government is preparing to sell rice from the government's rice-pledging scheme in a manner that suspiciously will allow certain individuals and firms to reap huge profits at the expense of the state coffers. Democrat party-list MP Ongart Klampaiboon said he and other Democrats would today submit additional evidence of corruption in connection with the rice-pledging scheme.

Chavarong also urged the prime minister to launch a probe into allegations of corruption in the use of disaster-rehabilitation funds and suspected irregularities in the project to shore up agricultural produce.

Meanwhile, government agencies scored 6.6 out of 10 points on the transparency index - with work relating to public health, finance and science achieved highest scores, according the results of a National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) survey released yesterday.

The survey, conducted for the 2011 fiscal year, found disclosure in procurement processes to be the weakest point in the transparency assessment, followed by public participation in government work, NACC member Vicha Mahakun said.

Three departments - Customs, Revenue and Provincial Administration - did not take part in the survey.

"The NACC survey was aimed at assessing the transparency of departments or equivalent units based on job performance in order to get a true picture of each department, overcoming bias created by public sentiment," Vicha said.

He called for agencies to step up disclosure on procurement projects in order to boost transparency. He also said several agencies appeared unwilling to rectify flawed procurement processes as recommended following audits.

The survey covered four areas - work strategy, work implementation, work assessment and compliance with the national strategy to root out corruption. The average score for work strategy was 6.8, while that for work implementation was 5.5. Work assessment scored 6.1 and anti-corruption compliance received a high score of 8.

Some 45 government agencies participated in the survey. The agencies were responsible for five work groups - public services, social affairs, justice and national security, economic affairs, and policy and academics. Key agencies included Land Transport, Provincial Roads, Irrigation, Highways, Harbour, Public Health, Royal Thai Police, Lands, Treasury, Excise, Science and Fiscal Policy.

The NACC will today organise a ceremony to recognise three agencies from the Public Health, Finance and Science ministries that received the highest scores on transparency.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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