Corruption 'still plagues Thailand'

More severe penalties and the participation of the private and public sectors in inspecting state investment projects are the keys to curbing rampant corruption in Thailand, says the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The latest UTCC survey found most businesses continued to pay kickbacks to state officials and politicians, in a range of 25-35% of the project value, despite growing campaigns for all parties to tackle the country's widespread corruption problem.

The UTCC's Corruption Situation Index (CSI) is based on 2,400 respondents in the business and government sectors, and the score was 39 points in December last year, down from 41 points in June. This level is regarded as critical, as above 40 is considered moderate. The closer a CSI score is to zero, the higher the level of corruption, while 100 shows high transparency and a lack of graft.

Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the UTCC, said corruption last year was estimated to cost 240-330 billion baht, compared to the country's overall investment and procurement budget of 2.4 trillion baht.

Based on the UTCC's calculation, if corruption stands at 35% of the investment and procurement budget, it would cut the country's annual GDP by 2.63%.

Tea money is the most popular form of corruption, making up 30% of the estimated corruption value.

Mr Thanavath said there is information that in certain northern provinces the tea money is now as high as 50% of the value of the investment project.

"Corruption is now widespread both in government agencies and local administration organisations," he said, adding politicians are the major source of corruption followed by state officials and businesses.

Most respondents said the gravest area of concern was the government's controversial rice pledging scheme. Future concerns include the government's planned 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investment project and 350-billion-baht water management project.

Respondents said the most effective way to tackle corruption is to start with politicians, followed by state officials and businesses.

"We desperately need to speed up legislative reform to impose serious penalties for those engaged in corruption," he said. "The public and private sectors should play more of a role in participating in corruption inspections and informing the public once corrupt practices are found. It is also important for information on investment projects to be transparent."

The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by the Berlin-based Transparency International rated Thailand at 102 out of 177 countries, down from 88 the previous year, meaning corruption in Thailand had worsened.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 17/01/2014 at 10:47 AM
You will never see democracy with such deep rooted corruption. Never.
Discussion 2 : 17/01/2014 at 10:08 AM
Thailand will have a man on the moon before they stamp out corruption! Who's your daddy ???
Discussion 3 : 17/01/2014 at 10:01 AM
To put the figure of 102 into perspective, Thailands neighbours are rated as follows - Malaysia 53, Vietnam 116, Cambodia 160, Myanmar 157, Laos 140, Singapore 5, China 80. Huguette Labelle, Chair, Transparency International summed it up when he said "It is time to stop those who get away with acts of corruption. The legal loopholes and lack of political will in government facilitate both domestic and cross-border corruption, and call for our intensified efforts to combat the impunity of the corrupt.” The 'will' of any government has to be stronger than the 'will' of the corrupt. If they continue to get away with it, they will not stop.
Discussion 4 : 17/01/2014 at 09:53 AM
Thais, at large, want to see all corrupt politicians and civil servants to be prosecuted in court and sentenced to heavy jail sentences and their illegally acquired assets seized then a ban for life as politicians or civil servants in the Thai administration; therefore politicians and university lecturers must stop blabbing without drastic actions to reform Thailand to be a modern country without partisan clans to manage the country at the expense of all Thai people.
Discussion 5 : 17/01/2014 at 09:45 AM
If this study is correct thats a staggering amount of corruption. I agree that the only way to stop it is with severe penalties for all those involved. It does seem though that corruption is not only at the higher end of the spectrum. Hard to see a way forward that can weed it all out.
Discussion 6 : 17/01/2014 at 09:30 AM
Transparency.....total and complete openness and immediate public declaration of the honest truth....every time a business or person, public or private is asked or required to pay a bribe to gain favor from a government or state official, it should register and report the official's name, ID Card # and amount paid. No one should omit this duty, it's the only way to stamp out the graft. Identify the offenders and let the courts set the punishment.
Discussion 7 : 17/01/2014 at 09:14 AM
What about the corruption NOT involving money? Doing your job in a way that benefits your cronies for example? Political gamesmanship when your job is defined in the constitution? Lots of bad ways people can do their job and it doesn't always involve money.
Discussion 8 : 17/01/2014 at 09:02 AM
Two solutions to start with: 1. a code of behavior for all civil servants as part of their labor contract. Offending the code means getting fired and loose all rights to salary, retirement funds and other privileges of state officials; 2. NO cash payments of the government at all levels which exceed 10,000 Baht. Payments are done by bank.
Discussion 9 : 17/01/2014 at 09:01 AM
A waste of time and resource to study about corruption in Thailand.
Discussion 10 : 17/01/2014 at 08:34 AM
Water still wet.

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