Mr Klanarong, who served as Secretary-General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) before May 22 last year, delivered his call for budget applications at a meeting with Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong and leading island officials at Phuket Provincial Hall on Sunday (August 30).
“The Committees of the National Legislative Assembly are responsible for drafting acts for the constitution along with investigating and studying political issues,” Mr Klanarong explained.
“We also oversee the election system and political party and we are here today to discuss these topics and get some feedback from the city and local administration so we can collect information to central government to find solution to existing problems for each area.”
Mr Klanarong said that the main problem his investigative team had discovered was that provincial officials were frightened to ask for budget support from the central government for fear of being investigated by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).
“We have visited many provinces and discovered the same issue among local administrations: that they are afraid to request funds because the OAG is very strict and scrutinizes where the money will be used.
“This is especially so concerning the rules governing yearly budget disbursement, which state that any unspent budget must be returned.”
In explaining his understanding of why local officials were afraid to apply for budgets, Mr Klanarong did not include the fact that on June 25 dozens of senior officials across the country were suspended or transferred by direct order of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha pending investigations into corruption allegations.
To enact the suspensions and transfers, ordered at the behest of the NACC, PM Prayut used the unrestricted powers of Section 44 of the interim constitution. (See story here.)
Among those was suspended was Paiboon Upatising, president of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO or OrBorJor). Mr Paiboon, a former Phuket Senator, died of cancer on August 2. He was interred on August 10 with a state burial. (See stories here and here.)
Instead, Mr Klanarong put it down to “misunderstandings”.
“There are so many misunderstandings that we must resolve and this is a good time for us to collect all information and concerns and try to solve the issue so local administrations can speed up budget disbursement, which is crucial to boosting economy, he said.
“All issues and problems must be submitted by written reports to the Committees of the National Legislative Assembly.”
However, Mr Klanarong admitted that Phuket was “special” compared with other provinces in the country.
“The issue of budget disbursement must be resolved differently in each area, and Phuket is different than other provinces because it is a tourism city,” he said.
“The amount of budget awarded is usually more than other provinces already, but it is still not enough to support the fast growth of the city.”
In closing, Mr Klanarong called on all local officials to follow closely where budget funds are spent.
“Phuket must follow up closely on all yearly budget disbursement to prevent fraud and corruption among the local administration level,” he said.