Published on August 14, 2007
Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn has asked the Comptroller-General's Department to introduce regulations to limit the number of new public organisations, according to a source at the ministry.
"The minister wants to control the number of public organisations in order to reduce the fiscal burden and protect fiscal discipline," the official said. The mushrooming of public organisations under the previous government has created a fiscal burden for the current and future governments due to the high staff salaries - Bt100,000-200,000 per month for executives - and other expenses including initial investment in these organisations, said the official, who asked not to be named.
Moreover, the Finance Ministry is concerned about the fiscal discipline of these public organisations, which currently number 40, because of the lack of supervision and scrutiny.
The ministry also wants to dissolve the revolving funds created by government agencies. There are currently 92 funds with a combined estimated value of Bt100 billion annually.
Chalongphob wants some of these either to be dissolved or merged with other funds. Government agencies set up such funds because they argue that it allows them to respond to emergencies or specific issues, such as a fund designed to implement a price subsidy for agricultural products.
The Comptroller-General's Department is expected to come
up with a solution quickly and submit it to the Cabinet for approval, the source added.
Prominent among the many public organisations set up by the Thaksin Shinawatra government is the Office for Knowledge Management and Development which, together with its seven units - notably the Thailand Knowledge Park and Thailand Creative & Design Centre - spent more than Bt3 billion during the first three years of operation.
It was allocated another Bt1 billion in the 2007 fiscal year and has Bt800 million earmarked in fiscal 2008.
The Thai Health Organisation, set up by the previous government in 2001, is funded by "six taxes" worth about Bt2 billion to Bt2.5 billion per annum. About 2 per cent of the duty collected on tobacco and alcohol sales goes to the organisation.
Another Thaksin-era creation is the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, a public organisation set up in 2002 to promote the country as a venue for corporate meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) travellers.
There was also a proposal to set up a Mass Transit Authority to supervise the entire rail transport system, including ticketing and operations. The idea was floated while Pongsak Ruktapongpisal was transport minister, even though Thailand already has the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand, which was set up to invest in the first subway.