NACC provincial offices face closure

The provincial offices of the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC) are likely to be dissolved under a new organic law governing the country’s top anti-corruption agency.

Norachit Sinhaseni, spokesman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), said the CDC does not think the provincial offices necessary but the NACC has argued for the need to retain them.

The CDC will have to hear the NACC out on the issue before it makes a decision whether to keep or dissolve them, he said.

The charter writers are meeting in Rayong to lay down the framework and guidelines for the drafting of the NACC organic law and two others on elections of the MPs and senators. The NACC has produced its own version and submitted it to the CDC for consideration.

Mr Norachit said the CDC will consider five key points concerning the NACC’s power including a time frame for an inquiry, public participation in combating graft, and declarations of assets and liabilities. He said the new law is likely to specify the time frame for an inquiry to prevent the expiry of statutes of limitations.

As for asset declarations, politicians and members of the independent agencies will submit their assets and debts to the NACC but the NACC members and the staff will be required to declare their wealth with the Office of the Auditor-General.

He said the NACC’s proposal on its role to liaise with its counterparts in other countries has yet to be considered because the CDC believes the issue is not the agency’s core responsibility.

Mr Norachit said the CDC insists on the so-called set zero approach, which will result in a fresh selection of nine members of the NACC to ensure they are qualified under the new charter.

He said the charter has increased the NACC’s powers and responsibilities and public expectations are likely to be high, so its members will have to meet more stringent requirements.

According to a source, all but one member of the NACC do not seem to meet the qualifications set by the constitution of a new batch of NACC members.

He noted the NACC under the new organic law will concentrate on the fight against corruption while probes into alleged malfeasance in office and serious violations of codes of conduct against government officials will be the burden of state agencies where the accused work.

He said the framework and guidelines will be forwarded to the Council for State which will draft the organic law and send it back to the CDC for consideration.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said there are several issues for the CDC to deliberate including the provincial offices of the NACC and scrutiny of the NACC itself. “We intend to make the NACC an efficient agency in handling corruption cases but we haven’t seen such elements in the draft [proposed by the NACC],” he said.

According to Mr Norachit, the CDC is halfway through its work of drafting five more organic laws which will be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) within 240 days of the charter promulgation. Five draft bills have already been submitted to the NLA for scrutiny and subsequently approved.

Some of the organic bills approved by the NLA, such as those governing the political parties and the Election Commission, contained contentious points which had to be thrashed out in a joint panel represented by relevant parties, such as the NLA and the EC.

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