Ministry to probe solar buys

Construction News


The Interior Ministry is being asked to scrutinise local administration organisations’ purchases of solar-powered street lights nationwide after ones bought in Samut Prakan turned out to be unusually expensive.

The alleged irregularity was revealed yesterday by Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) secretary-general Prayong Preeyajit who found a local administration body in Samut Prakan spent 175,000 baht on each light, which far exceeds the market price of between 30,000 baht and 50,000 baht apiece.

Samut Prakan’s local officials are among those in 13 provinces who were granted a budget in 2013 by the Interior Ministry’s Local Administration Department to carry out 173 urgent development projects, worth 543 million baht in total.


Solar-power street lights installed in Phra Pradaeng district of Samut Prakan. Tawatchai Kemgumnerd

Among these projects was the construction of solar-powered street lights.

The 173 urgent projects also included the development of transport routes; improving sources of water; promoting local education; and mitigating the effects of disasters.

The PACC was called to inspect the local administration organisation in Samut Prakan, which was allowed to buy a total of 450 street lights, following reports that outside parties employed stand-over tactics to force officials to request a development budget for the solar-powered lights, Mr Prayong said.

Mr Prayong said the discovery of the overpriced lights was made after the price tags were compared with those bought by local administration organisations in Buri Ram, which paid between 52,000 and 55,000 baht for each light, he said.

He added a “special method” was used to buy the lights without calling bids.