By THE NATION
Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Cabinet yesterday resolved that construction of the meeting hall for senators and offices of parliamen?tary personnel must be completed by the end of this year.
He added that the meeting hall for members of Parliament and the areas connecting all the buildings must be completed by March next year.
“All the construction must be fin?ished by December 2019 to prepare for the new MPs after the election,” the spokesman said.
An election has been promised for February 2019. New MPs and senators are expected to move to the new Parliament complex, which is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok’s Kiak Kai district.
The Cabinet decision yesterday was made in response to a request by the Secretariat of the House of Representatives for a further exten?sion of the construction period. The secretariat is in charge of the project to construct the new Parliament.
Construction of the Bt12-billion complex began in June 2013 and was initially expected to be complete in November 2015. However, it was post?poned to November 2016, February 2018, and now to December 2019.
Yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, also approved the secre?tariat’s request for an additional Bt512.5 million in state funding to cover the cost of construction, work supervision and the hiring of project advisers, Sansern said.
However, the Cabinet rejected the agency’s request for Bt8.13 billion for the complex’s utilities system, includ?ing air-conditioning and information technology, he added.
“The Cabinet did not approve the request. The secretariat was instruct?ed to review its request and provide clearer details next time,” the spokesman told reporters.
He said General Prayut listened to comments from representatives from the Budget Bureau, the Finance Ministry and other related agencies before rejecting the budget request.
“The prime minister told the meet?ing that a lot of the additional costs involve matters of decor. And he will not allow issues regarding [expensive] microphones and clocks to happen again,” Sansern said, referring to a scandal involving items purchased at inflated prices for the current Parliament building that emerged shortly after the junta came to power.
The new Parliament complex, to be called Sappaya Sapa Sathan (“Peaceful Place of Assembly”), is Thailand’s third parliament house, after the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and the cur?rent complex in Dusit district.
Covering an area of more than 424,000 square metres, the new complex can accommodate more than 5,000 people, with parking for some 2,000 cars. In addition to separate meeting halls for the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as both Houses, it also houses museums, a convention centre, seminar room, banquet hall, office area, and other function areas.