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Thursday, May 19, 2022

PM adviser defends iPhone budget of 2.6 million baht for government officials

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Prime Minister Prayut’s adviser Natthriya Thaweevong defended the government’s 2.6 million baht budget to purchase 111 iPhone 12s for its officials, saying smartphones are crucial in this digital age.

She responded to public outcry over the plan to purchase 23 iPhone 12s with 128 gigabytes (GB) of storage for ministers, directors-general and senior officials up to C10 level, and 88 iPhone 12s with 64 GB of storage for civil servants at the C10 level. level of directors

Thaweevong said the phones are intended to replace the iPhone 7 that was given to officials five years ago. She added that many officials cannot afford to buy a new smartphone, so the government decided to intervene.

The adviser also said that it is normal for every office to spend some money to purchase smartphones as it allows employees to work more effectively.

She said many other workplaces would expand policies to cover their employees’ phone bills, after which she asked the public to trust the government’s decision as it was made in the best interest of everyone.

In response to the uproar over the phones, the non-governmental organization Mirror Foundation has asked the government to donate the old iPhones to children who need smartphones to take online courses.

When asked whether the foundation has contacted the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Ms. Thaweevong said the foundation has not yet made a formal request, which will be necessary as the phones used are state-owned.

The foundation responded by posting a message on Facebook stating that it has sent a letter to the government office, the foundation has also asked to donate used smartphones from other offices to underprivileged children, Facebook said.

Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, MP and leader of the Thai Civilized Party, said on Facebook that it is a pity that while the government cannot afford to raise the price of rice and rubber while trying to provide luxury, i.e. expensive items for its officials.

Pheu Thai Party MP for Yasothon, Piyawat Phansaichuea, said he has received many complaints from rice farmers who have received no government assistance at all as the government chooses to wait for next year’s budget to be approved.

He said it is ironic that the government said it cannot afford emergency relief projects, but they can find budgets for weapons and smartphones for their officials.

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