Thursday, October 27, 2011

Water management a fiscal fiasco, says OAG

Bangkok Post

4-year study finds flaws in govt fund allocations

Published: 27/10/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

The Office of the Auditor General has found government agencies' efforts to manage water in the country's 25 river basins lacked unified direction.

The agency also found that the allocated budget of 160 billion baht for water management over the river basins was badly handled. Pisit Leelavachiropas, acting auditor-general, said the office had scrutinised the government's water management in the country from 2005 to the 2009 fiscal year.

During those five fiscal years, the government had allocated more than 160 billion baht to water management projects.

The OAG has randomly looked into 171 water management projects in 35 provinces that are located in 14 major river basins and 68 tributary basins.

It found some of the agencies had implemented 96 projects that could not appropriately and effectively solve water management problems.

Among the 96 projects, 30 of them solved problems for select groups of people only, while 47 projects had not correlated with other projects.

Nineteen more projects were implemented in areas where problems were not critical, or where problems in the project sites did not need urgent attention, Mr Pisit said.

About 764 million baht had been spent on projects which had little effect on problem solving and on those that did not address the root causes of problems or the actual needs of the project sites.

"The budget allocation for water management in the past did not have direction, lacked efficiency and was not worthwhile," Mr Pisit said.

In the meantime, the ongoing flood crisis is a warning sign from nature that we must make the effort to manage water crisis a national agenda, he said.

"Then, in the future, we will no longer experience severe drought and a fresh water tsunami. We might not be able to complete it during the tenure of a certain government, but we have to do it."

The OAG has sent a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, recommending the PM push for the issuing of a law for integrated water management in the country.

The letter said management should be focused on the river basin system. It said the law should authorise certain agencies to be the focal points of the integrated management effort, as well as state clear responsibilities of each agency which is required to get involved in the water management process. The law should focus on the coordination between relevant agencies on planning and budgeting.

Agencies should be required to continuously monitor and report the progress of their water management effort as well.

This would help prevent each agency from spending the government's budget on projects that have not been streamlined in the same direction like the way they have spent the budget earlier, Mr Pisit said.
Post a Comment