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Auction raises legal worries

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The legality of a second tablet auction under the Pheu Thai-led government's One Tablet PC Per Child policy will have to be confirmed by the Comptroller-General's Department (CGD), a tablet committee source says. 

The source said the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) will be responsible for the second auction for about 1.6 million tablet computers for all Pathom 1 (Grade 1) and Mathayom 1 (Grade 4) students.

He said it will be the first time Obec has held an e-auction to provide equipment for other agencies and there are no guidelines _ even in 2006 regulations set out by the Prime Minister's Office _ on e-auction procurement that stipulate whether this method is legitimate.

The authorities are afraid of being accused of committing irregularities similar to those alleged in the recent 3G frequency auction case, he said.

Obec wrote to the CGD recently to clarify its plans and confirm the auction process is legitimate, the source said.

Ten procurement contracts will be signed in five zones, covering the North, the Central Plains, the upper Northeast, the lower Northeast and the South.

Bidders could win no more than two contracts each, he said.

The median tablet price for Pathom 1 students is 2,720 baht and Mathom 1 students is 2,820 baht, and the estimate budget is 4 billion baht. The auction will be completed in one day, he said.

The new tablets are expected to be delivered to students before the next semester starting in May-June. Last year, Chinese firm Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development won the bid to supply about 860,000 tablets for Pathom 1 students.

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