PACC appears 'more effective' under junta's appointee

PACC appears 'more effective' under junta's appointee

In the wake of the May 22 coup, the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has managed to have more than 3,000 rai of illegally acquired land returned to the state. This was achieved just one month after the new secretary-general Prayong Preeyajit was appointed by the military rulers.

Before the coup, an average of 10 complaints per month were submitted to the PACC, while after the coup, in July alone, the number of complaints rose to 341.

Also, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has been forwarding complaints to PACC, as has the military-run Internal Security Operations Command, Prayong said yesterday. If the illegally acquired land continued being occupied unlawfully, it would have cost the state Bt2 billion in lost assets, he said.

Prayong said that in the next two months, his agency would tackle widespread corruption involving numerous flood- or disaster-prevention projects, claiming that more than Bt100 billion had been wasted on these schemes through corrupt officials.

The PACC, established in 1999, like the National Anti-Corruption Commission is supposed to crack down on graft. While the NACC monitors politicians and senior government officials, the PACC oversees junior officials with central agencies or those with local administrative bodies.

The PACC made little progress previously, allegedly because of political influence, but after the military seized power, it was given more authority to combat small-scale corruption.

Prayong has also been able to create a new set of policies - thanks to the greater power granted by the NCPO -requiring that superiors in government agencies check on their subordinates and ensure there is no corruption. They are also required to work out measures to tackle cases within a fixed time frame, otherwise they could face criminal charges.

He said that of all 172 government agencies that are required to conduct internal audits, 67 had already submitted their reports, while the remainder have until August 30.

Of all the wrongdoings found in the audits, embezzlement tops the list, followed by malfeasance, document forgery, suspicious budget allocation and requests, bribe and false verifications. The agencies found most corrupt are allegedly the Interior Ministry, the Royal Thai Police and the Education Ministry, in that order.

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