Bangkok governor probes overpriced gym equipment purchases
Bangkok governor probes overpriced gym equipment purchasesLegacy

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt acknowledged discovering unusual procurement patterns in gym equipment purchases for two sports centres managed by City Hall, with one treadmill costing as much as a car.

Chadchart addressed public concerns yesterday regarding the procurement for the sports centres at Waree Phirom Park in Khlong Sam Wa district and Wachirabenchathat Park (Suan Rod Fai) in Chatuchak district.

The 58 year old city chief committed to intensifying the investigation and taking legal action if officials were involved in any misconduct while assuring that the City Hall would maintain transparency in its administrative processes.

The issue came to light when the Strong Thailand Anti-Corruption Club made a Facebook post on the matter this Tuesday. The group claimed that the BMA spent approximately 10 million baht to procure 22 pieces of gym equipment for the two sports centres.

The prices of some items were significantly higher than the market rate, such as an electric treadmill costing 759,000 baht and a spinning bike priced at 484,000 baht.

The group also reported finding more irregular procurements at another seven sports centres, amounting to a total cost of 103.2 million baht.

Corruption investigation

In response, Chadchart stated that the BMA is collaborating with the State Audit Office (SAO) on the investigation while also conducting an internal probe led by its anti-corruption committee. He emphasised that the BMA has long implemented measures to prevent corruption in procurement.

Desired goods and services must first be approved by the Bangkok Metropolitan Council, consisting of 50 members. Every purchase must have a stated median price and can be viewed by the public via an online platform of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand.

The governor assured that the BMA would expedite the investigation to restore public confidence.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the BMA, Somboon Homnan, mentioned that procurements are conducted through e-bidding. Regarding the gym equipment, he said the BMA had conducted surveys to determine average prices with three sports equipment distributors, as required by law.

Deputy Governor Sanon Wangsrangboon explained that the contractor who supplied the gym equipment to the BMA had been working with City Hall since March 2022, dating back to the tenure of the former governor, Police General Aswin Kwanmuang. He noted that a treadmill at that time was priced at around 600,000 baht.

The procurement agreement was signed in 2022 before the current administration assumed office in June of that year. However, Sanon clarified that neither the procurement nor its process was linked to the former governor. He added that the BMA would work closely with the SAO to provide necessary information, reported Bangkok Post.

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Author: Ryan Turner