6 June 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will be asked to scrap the 25.6-billion-baht, 30-year deal between the Treasury Department and Wong Siam Construction for the supply of water to Thailand’s eastern region, including the Eastern Economic Corridor, due to a lack of transparency.

Chaiya Promma, an MP of the opposition Pheu Thai party and chair of the House committee monitoring budgetary management, said today (Tuesday) that they recently invited representatives of the parties involved to testify before the committee about the project and its bidding process.

The stakeholders include the Treasury Department, East Water, Wong Siam – the current supplier which won the new bid, and Provincial Waterworks Authority, a major shareholder in East Water.

Chaiya claimed that the bidding process was suspicious because some specifications were changed, allegedly to favour a new bidder, and that the committee in charge of the terms of reference was also changed.

In early May, the Treasury Department abruptly cancelled a contract signing ceremony between the department and Wong Siam without warning.

Wong Siam won the bid by offering a total fee of 25.6 billion baht to supply water for 30 years. Its rival, East Water, offered only 24 billion baht. Wong Siam also offered lower water charges not exceeding 10.98 baht baht/m3, compared to Eastwater’s 13 baht/m3.

Water is to be supplied through three pipelines, drawing water from three reservoirs owned by the Royal Irrigation Department, namely Dok Krai, Nong Pla Lai and Nong Kho.

Chaiya said that his committee has not probed deeper to find out if any government MPs would benefit from Wong Siam’s deal.

He admitted that he is not sure whether the prime minister will agree to scrap the deal, adding that he will, however, be held accountable if there is damage caused by the deal in the future.