Chinese firm cancels tablet contract

Chinese company, Shenzhen Yitoa Intelligent Control Co, has terminated contracts to supply over 800,000 tablets for Prathom 1 students, caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said.

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The contract was for the 2013 academic year, which ends next month.

The ministry will take back its 120-million-baht deposit and file charges against the company for further damages.

Mr Chaturon said that the Chinese company failed to meet delivery deadlines last December and the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) received a letter on Thursday informing it that the company decided to terminate the two contracts it has to supply the tablets.

He said the letter cited national political instability in Thailand, a lack of understanding of the contract, communication problems and a fine for delayed delivery as reasons behind the cancellation.

''The company said that to avoid the tablet scheme from being further affected and any more loss of business for the company, it decided to terminate all signed contracts and apologised for it.

The company is reserving the right to appeal," Mr Chaturon said.

In June last year, Obec organised a one-day electronic auction to procure a total 1.63 million tablets for all Prathom 1 and Mathayom 1 (Grade 7) students and their teachers, worth 4.611 billion baht of the 2013 fiscal budget, under the second phase of the Pheu Thai government's One Tablet per Child scheme.

Shenzhen Yitoa Intelligent Control Co won two contracts to supply 804,742 tablets for Prathom 1 students countrywide — so-called zone 1 and zone 2.

A Thai firm, Supreme Distribution, grabbed the bid to supply 426,683 devices for Mathayom 1 students and teachers in Zone 3 covering central and southern provinces.

Later, the education minister scrapped the Supreme Distribution contract over bid-rigging suspicions raised by the Office of the Auditor-General. This case is still in the appeal process.

The auction for Zone 4 was held later and Jasmine Telecom won the contract to supply 402,889 tablets for Mathayom 1 students and teachers in northern and northeastern provinces.

According to their procurement contract, Shenzhen Yitoa was required to pay a fine of 0.2% of the procurement cost per day.

The committee would hold a meeting on Friday to discuss actions it would take against the company.

The ministry cannot deny the tablet procurements have been beset by problems right from the very start, Mr Chaturon said.

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