Thai / English

Minister's role in SSO 'may raise problems'

17 Jul 13
The Nation

The Law Reform Commission's panel overseeing amendment and development of social-welfare law yesterday raised issues about a possible lack of transparency and corruption due to the appointment of the labour minister to a senior role.

Its claims were based on the draft Social Security Act's Article 8 that assigned the labour minister as president of the Social Security Office (SSO) board. This would give him authority over a Bt1-trillion budget.

The meeting yesterday was attended by some 50 officials, employer and employee representatives, academics and labour organisations. They gathered opinions about the draft amendment - which was proposed by the Cabinet, defeating an earlier version proposed by the labourer/subscriber sector. The opinions will be proposed to the Cabinet and the House.

Sunee Chairos, deputy chairwoman of the commission, said the draft's original intention was to have a selection process for the SSO board president - but the wording was changed during the House's consideration to have a minister in that position, instead of the current practice of a Labour permanent secretary.

"It's clear the SSO board would come from an origin different from what the labourer/subscriber sector proposed," she added.

Thai Labour Solidarity Commit-tee chairman Chalee Loysung said he tried to object to the assignment of a minister as SSO board president as it was against the law and risky (because the policy changed constantly). It would also give a minister the ability to propose and approve projects that could lead to conflict of interest. He said the labourer/subscriber sector wanted the board to be 30-strong and come from direct election with one subscriber, one vote.

Labour Solidarity Committee vice president Wilaiwan Saetia said the panel wanted a "professional" for the position and echoed concerns that having the minister as board president with total authority over the Bt1-trillion Social Security Fund made workers very uneasy.

Somkiat Chayasriwong opined the board president should be considered by the House and the board should select an office as SSO secretarygeneral.

MP Ratchadaporn Kaewsanit said assignment of a minister as board president could affect work in the Social Security Office. She also urged that female subscribers who get childbirth rights after having contributed to the fund over seven months should get such rights after the dirst distribution payment. She also said the draft stated that child support right should be amended from six years old to 15 years, and the childbirth right's limitation to only two kids should be amended to "unlimited".