Originally published at Siam Voices on November 6, 2010
After Bangkok Pundit has recently blogged about the 100 million Baht ($3.3m) car shopping spree by Thai independent agencies, The Nation reported this:
The Budget Bureau has approved a Bt78.4-million [$2.6m] fund to purchase 21 new official cars for senior figures in the Prime Minister’s Office, a Government House source said yesterday. Of the budget, Bt10 million [$337.211] will be spent on a 5,500cc limousine for the prime minister, Bt24.9 million [$839.656] on four 3,000cc cars for the deputy prime ministers, and Bt11.1 million [$374.304] on three 3,000cc cars for the PM’s Office ministers. The remaining Bt7.3 million [$246.164] will be spent on a 3,000cc car for Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda.
“Budget for official cars approved“, The Nation, November 6, 2010
The Thai-language Krungthep Turakij has a more detailed breakdown of the purchases, which I have compiled into this spreadsheet here. Also, according to the article the budget was originally intended for 22 vehicles to be bought in 2011, but was eventually reduced to 21 in order “to support political positions in case of a change of government in the future” (เพื่อให้สามารถรองรับตำแหน่งทางการเมืองหากมีการเปลี่ยนแปลงรัฐบาลในครั้งต่อไป), even though the total price still remains the same.
Note worthing is the car purchase for “Statesman” (รัฐบุรุษ) in the first line of the spreadsheet, this probably refers to privy council president Prem as The Nation implied. What is striking is that in a cabinet decision to spend THB 87.5m (about $2.57m*) to buy 19 cars for the Privy Council back in 2008, it was referred the “president of the privy council” (ประธานองคมนตรี) got one car worth THB 6,5m (about $191.176*). So, we have two different descriptions for the essentially same position? Semantic mistake or legal loophole?
* Exchange rate 2008: $1 = THB 34 (Source)