A PACC team has found irregularities at the provincial centre for protection of the destitute, which bought 500 blankets to give away to poor elderly people in February last year, said PACC Secretary-General Lt Col Kornthip Daroj.
The centre is operated under the Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW).
The PACC team, which went to Sing Buri for an inspection on Saturday, found that blankets purchased for B200,000, or B400 baht, more expensive than the median price of B240 a piece set by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), he said.
Worse, the blankets were found to be of “ridiculously poor quality”, Col Kornthip said.
Some of the beneficiaries told the PACC team that they could only use the blankets once as they were worn out after the first wash, he said.
Some villagers admitted that they did not get a chance to use the blankets because it wasn’t cold in Sing Buri, he said.
According to the DDPM guidelines, a blanket is required to be at least 145cm in width, 195cm in length and 1.1kg in weight, Col Kornthip said.
Some blankets handed out by the Sing Buri centre weighed less than 1.1kg a piece and didn’t reach the minimum width, he said.
The DSDW was supposed to follow the same standard outlined by the DDPM in procuring blankets for fiscal year 2015, he said. It is not clear who supplied the blankets under the scheme.
The PACC is investigating the Sing Buri centre’s spending of state welfare budget, particularly the purchase of blankets for this fiscal year, Col Kornthip said.
Earlier last week, the PACC said it was expanding its probe into the welfare fund embezzlement scandal.
It will cover 28 more organisations that received B103.8 million in fiscal year 2017.
Last Thursday (May 3), Col Kornthip said the body is in the third phase of investigation into the nationwide embezzlement scandal.
The 28 organisations being investigated are two operation centres for the destitute, five provincial offices for protection of those in poverty, two village co-operatives coordination centres, nine provincial self-help community projects and 10 highland people development centres.
The alleged embezzlement scandal came to light in Khon Kaen in January when a group of Maha Sarakham University students claimed that the local centre chief and other senior officials ordered them to fill in forms and put fake signatures on receipts for 2,000 villagers amounting to nearly B7mn.
They were working as interns at the Khon Kaen Protection for the Destitute Centre last year.
The case sparked a large-scale investigation into welfare projects.
Khon Kaen welfare director Phuangphayom Chitkhom was the first to be given the axe, dismissed from the civil service in March.
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