Royal Thai Police commissioner Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuong has revealed recently that the prime minister has signed approval of the purchase proposed by him under the police welfare scheme.
He said under the welfare scheme, the royal Thai Police will place direct order to purchase a total of 152,468 9 mm SIG Sauer Model P 320 pistols from manufacturer in the United States.
Under the welfare condition, police officers placing the purchase order must not transfer ownership of the pistols to other persons, except through inheritance of ownership.
The scheme has earlier been endorsed by the interior minister Gen Anupong Paochinda, and deputy prime minister for security affairs Gen Pravit Wongsuwan.
The Royal Thai Police is required to process and finish the procurenent within 36 months after the approval.
Pol Gen Somyot has pushed forward the welfare scheme after the over 150,000 police officers have formally confirmed their purchase order of the 9 mm Sig Sauer P320 pistols.
The scheme is aimed at procuring high quality pistols for police use at low price at their own costs.
Earlier the national police chief disclosed that representatives of Sig Sauer has arrived for talk of the order and they agreed to sell at only 18,000 baht apiece.
He said market price of the pistol is over 70,000 baht included tax, but the offered price is lower because it is a direct approach with the gun manufacturer.
He said his earlier request for 30% exemption of tax for the gun was rejected by the Finance Ministry with reason that the gun is bought for personal use and is a personal property, therefore the import tax could not be exempted.
But Pol Gen Somyot insisted that although the gun is bought as personal property by police officer, but it is also used by officer for official service. Therefore the tax should be exempted, he said.
He said he would also seek approval from the prime minister over the issue, as he saw this was necessary to help the police with low income to have high quality guns for use.
Price of legal gun is very high due to various reasons, significantly the limited quota system a year for importer though demand is very high.
A .38 Smith & Wesson revolver sold for less than 5,000 baht three decades ago is now sold over 100,000 baht.