Massive water project in the East put on hold due to questions over bidding process

Pichet, leader of the ruling party’s so-called “Group of 16”, alleged on April 30 that the terms of reference for the tender had been changed suspiciously to allow Wong Siam Construction to participate.

The MP said that although Wong Siam Construction has delivered very high returns for the water management project, the company may not have the capacity or knowledge to replace the current concessionaire, Eastwater Group, to distribute and manage water in the East.

Pichet said the panel would also consider stability in water management and distribution instead of just being motivated by a higher concession fee.

He pointed out that Eastwater was a subsidiary of the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA).

However, Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat, who is overseeing the project and its bidding process, insisted on Tuesday that the bidding had been done in a transparent manner.

He also argued that Eastwater was not PWA’s subsidiary and that PWA only had a 40% stake in the company.

Santi said Eastwater lost the bid because it only offered 24 billion baht for the 30-year concession, while Wong Siam Construction offered 25.6 billion baht.

“The Treasury Department properly organized the tender and took all necessary steps,” he added.

The deputy minister also pointed out that Eastwater had only paid 552 million baht for its previous 30-year concession, and the Treasury Department decided to ask for a higher offer once the concession expired.

“You have to ask the company that lost the tender why they didn’t give so much money in the past,” said Santi, who is also secretary general of the ruling party.

When asked if Pichet would be allowed to stay in the party now that he has questioned the party secretary general’s decision, Santi only replied, “The media can answer that question for me.”

He said that if the opposition questions the decision on the project during the next censorship debate, he would be ready to clear up all doubts.

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