Ex-PM Yingluck and two aides faulted by NACC over “Thailand 2020” project
Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, former PM’s Office Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn and Suranand Vejjajiva, former Secretary-General to the Prime Minister, have been faulted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for malfeasance in office, for allegedly wasting 240 million baht of taxpayers’ money in hiring two media firms for the promotion of the “Thailand 2020” roadshow project in 2013.
The two media companies, Matichon and Siam Sports Syndicate, and well as their top executives, Thakoon Boonpan and Ravee Lowthong, were also faulted for aiding and abetting the alleged offences.
In the “Thailand 2020” promotion project, 12 provinces were chosen for the launch of the campaign, featuring exhibitions to educate and inform people about the development of major infrastructure projects, such as the dual-track and high-speed rail projects, paid for with money from a two trillion baht loan bill, proposed by the Yingluck government. Each of the 12 provinces were provided with 20 million baht, to be disbursed from the Central Fund.
Matichon and the Siam Sports Syndicate were chosen to organize the promotional events, held in the northeastern provinces in Nong Khai and Nakhon Ratchasima initially.
Protests were launched against the project, on the grounds that the two trillion baht loan bill may be unconstitutional and because legal issues were pending in the Constitutional Court. Critics also argued that the promotional project was a duplication of similar one, launched earlier by the Transport Ministry.
The project went ahead, despite the Budget Bureau not allocating the required funds. Later, the Constitutional Court ruled the two trillion baht loan bill was unconstitutional.
The NACC ruled that, since the loan bill was unconstitutional, all the projects related to it were invalidated. As such, the 240 million baht spent on the “Thailand 2020” project was a complete waste, causing damage to the state, said the NACC.