Ministry to cut on state agency perks

The Finance Ministry has asked all state enterprises to cut compensation and entertainment allowances for their board members to appropriate levels in a move to comply with the junta’s policy on state enterprise reform.

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Given that each state enterprise differs in business and size, the ministry allows each one to propose what it feels are proper rates and why, said a ministry source who requested anonymity.

Hefty perks, high compensation and allowances offered by state enterprise boards — even if they are losing money — have prompted strong criticism from the public, as typically politicians appoint their aides to these boards as political spoils. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) recently slashed the annual free-flight allowance for Thai Airway’s board, stoking public expectation other board benefits will also be sliced.    

GH Bank pays special allowances of 375,000 baht and 300,000 baht a year to its board chairman and board members, respectively. The chairman and executive board members are also entitled to use passenger cars with price tags not exceeding 6.5 million baht.

The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank) offers a special allowance of 500,000 baht a year to the chairman and 200,000 baht per year to the chairman of the executive board.

The source said the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo) knew little about the allowance and bonus payments for boards of SET-listed state enterprises including PTT Plc (PTT) and Krungthai Bank (KTB), as these companies gave few details and claimed their rates won approval from their shareholders.

The Sepo will gather information on all state enterprises and forward it to NCPO, said the source.

Regarding the recent scandal of a TOT board member who disbursed up to 800,000 baht for golf fees and food payment at one time, the source said the issue is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman Thailand.

The source said state enterprises offered high allowances, including for entertainment, to steer clear of a cabinet resolution prohibiting board members from receiving meeting allowances of over 10,000 baht a month, or 20,000 baht per month if the board members are also on a subcommittee.

The low allowance rate does not attract talented people to join the board, considering their responsibilities, said the source.

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