By THE NATION
The first point Thanathorn wanted to know was the Bt18.657 billion budget of the Defence Ministry, which was almost equal to the budgets of the Commerce and Digital Economy and Society ministries together.
He also asked the Defence Ministry to show details on:
1 Income from using radio waves in the past 10 years;
2 List of companies managing radio wave concessions and their contracts;
3 Contracts between the Army and Channel 7 dating back to 1969;
4 Income from allowing concession to Channel 7 every year dating back to 1969;
5 Income from rental multiplexer;
6 Agreement between the Defence Ministry and the Finance Ministry on budgets;
7 Details of off-budget funds types 1 and 2.
Thanathorn explained that his doubts on these issues were possibly related to the unusual wealth of those generals, and which people were curious to know about.
“According to the accounts presented to the National Anti-Corruption Commission in late May, there were 81 generals in the National Legislative Assembly holding Bt78 million of assets, or who earned around Bt12.72 million per year.
“Their income was three times their salaries, which means most of them were having a side business,” Thanathorn said.
Responding to the queries, General Pornpipat Benyasri, the commander-in-chief, responded that the fund set aside from the budget of up to Bt18 billion was managed by the Budget Bureau, while the disbursement was operated normally without special treatment.
On income transparency, he said that members of the National Legislative Assembly had already disclosed their properties before and after taking up their position. He also confirmed that relevant authorities will submit the documents about other details to Thanathorn later.
Meanwhile, General Apirat Kongsompong confirmed that some of the money was income from the military hospital, which will be used for management. Regarding the multiplexer cost, he said that the contracts with Channel 5 and Channel 7 had expired in 2018. He said the military already had a plan to reduce both the number of generals and the size of the military. However, Apirat did not answer the question of the unusual wealth of the generals.
Thanathorn asked about details on fund management and who was responsible for the management. He insisted that he would like to see the financial statements of all Army race courses and asked why it must be under Army control since it is not the Army’s main mission.