Former top cop defends bid change

A former national police chief has defended his role in changing the bidding method of the contentious police station construction project.

The 5.8 billion-baht project _ which involved the construction of 396 police stations nationwide _ has drawn harsh criticism due to allegations of price collusion and corruption.

Speaking after his three-hour testimony before the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday, Pol Gen Prateep Tanprasert said his decision to change the bidding method may have saved up to 900 million baht.

Pol Gen Prateep said problems arose with the project after his retirement and should be blamed on poor management of the construction contract, not the bidding method.

The initial plan was for each of the nine police regions to hold separate bids. But Pol Gen Prateep, who was serving as acting national police chief at the time, proposed a switch to a single, centralised bid because the cabinet had set aside only one budget, not nine. He said if the cabinet wanted more than one bid to be held, it would have separated the budget into nine amounts in the first place.

"It was possible to conduct a region-by-region bid or to make it a single one and I thought the second choice would make it easier to manage the budget," he said. The Royal Thai Police Office had a history of favouring the single bid option. Five out of 10 potential bidders quit because they could not prepare the bidding documents in time, not because they thought they were incapable of taking on such a large project, he said.

More importantly, he said, the remaining five bidders had a record of having completed projects worth more than 1.2 billion baht. This meant they all had the potential to complete this project as a single contractor. "Of course it was me who proposed to change the bidding method. The advantage of this approach was that it helped save 800-900 million baht in budget," he said. "Would price collusion be more likely to occur between nine slices of cake or only one piece of cake?"

About the author

columnist
Writer: King-oua Laohong
Position: Reporter