Thailand’s Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) has concluded that the procurement of three Chinese-built submarines was clean and transparent.
The Royal Thai Navy and a Chinese submarine supplier signed the procurement contract in China on May 5 which involves the purchase of a 13.5-billion baht (USD400 million approx) Yuan-class S26T submarine. It is one of three submarines the navy intends to purchase from China over 11 years in its 36-billion-baht procurement.
Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas said the navy handled the project meticulously. He insisted the OAG's audit was not covering up anything, Bangkok Post reported today.
"The OAG would not risk its reputation and dignity over this," Mr Pisit said, adding the OAG officers would not want to be jailed because of others. The funds for the submarine procurement would not affect the allocation of budgets for other state agencies, he added.
The cabinet approved the budget for the project on July 14, last year. It is a committed budget running from 2017 to 2023.The navy will pay 700 million in the first instalment this year, two billion baht next year and the rest until 2023.
The OAG audit was prompted after complaints from several quarters that the Thai Navy did not ensure the best deal for itself in the submarine procurement from China.
On its part, the Thai government has been insisting that the it had received the lowest quote from the Chinese company in a competition which involved several European firms as well.