By ANAPAT DEECHUAY
PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered the suspension of some of the budget spent by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), citing fiscal irregularities and misuse of funds.
General Chatudom Titthasiri, chairman of the Monitoring and Auditing Committee on Fiscal Expenditures, who had been assigned by the PM to investigate ThaiHealth’s spending, said he had sent the prime minister the results of the probe, which found some irregularities.
He found that some payments were made to individual people, groups or organisations that did not match the intended purpose. The investigation was launched following reports that ThaiHealth spent its budget to support activities not related to its purpose.
According to the law, ThaiHealth’s expenditure of its budget allocated from the so-called “sin tax” is supposed to be used to promote and encourage health promotion in the population of all ages in accordance with the national health policy. Some of it should also be used to support campaigns to reduce the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other deteriorating substances.
ThaiHealth was established in 2001 as a health promotion funding mechanism that draws upon a 2 per cent surcharge levied on alcohol and tobacco excise tax, which amounts to around Bt2 billion a year.
“But some activities [funded by ThaiHealth] did not directly promote people’s health,” Chatudom said.
The Auditor General Office also found irregularities in the budget spending that was deemed careless, he said.
Chatudom said the Public Health Ministry had set up a committee to look into ThaiHealth’s expenditures in order to ensure the budget is used for its intended purpose.
The PM also ordered the Ministry of Justice to investigate the misuse of the budget approval.
“The prime minister put a stop only to some of the budget that was not used for its intended purpose. The rest of the foundation can continue [to spend],” he said.