BANGKOK – The independent Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) says corruption in Thailand has risen sharply over the past two years to an “urgent” level.
Business leaders believe Thailand’s economic growth might be 50 per cent higher if not for corruption, according to the latest survey conducted by the CAC.
The survey of 1,066 executives in Thailand was carried out between January and April, with about 75 per cent of respondents saying corruption has increased rapidly and 93 per cent putting corruption at a “high” or “very high” level.
One hundred and sixty-six companies have signed up as members of the CAC and have vowed not to get involved in corruption and fraud. The CAC is a joint effort of eight leading private sector groups.
“Corruption hurts the country’s reputation and competitiveness,” said Bandid Nijathaworn, president and chief executive of the Thai Institute of Directors.
Of respondents, 63 per cent said corruption “has a very high impact on business” and 54 per cent said it “raises the cost of doing business by more than 10 per cent”, he said.
Respondents said corruption happens most during the procurement process with the government, followed by registration or applying for licences, government project auctions and private sector procurement.
The most prevalent form of corruption is cronyism, followed by graft, policy corruption by politicians and cash paid for future benefits.
Industries believed to be potentially susceptible to corruption include telecommunications, energy and utilities, agriculture, property development and construction materials.
Mr Bandid said that while the country’s corruption situation is serious, there are signs of growing awareness in the private sector of the damage it can cause.
Another encouraging sign, he said, is that a quarter of respondents had “high” or “very high” confidence that corruption can be solved.
“Some 51 per cent of respondents are ready to take collective action to eliminate fraud, and 46 per cent will take part if a practical plan is available,” said Mr Bandid. “[This is] much higher than in previous years.”
But the survey noted that government and politicians are still the keys to solving corruption.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said the state is ready to let third parties monitor the B350-billion Bangkok floodwater management plan to help ensure transparency.