Complicated and often meaningless bureaucratic rules together with bribery scare away potential foreign investors and reduce the economic potential of the country.
Bureaucratic inefficiencies and corruption in Thailand's computer industries and the effect they have on Thailand's economic potential is the focus of an extract taken from a larger article. The larger article also includes an invaluable survey of computer-related businesses in Thailand. Read the fuller article here.
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Why kickbacks are holding us all back by Don Sambandaraksa
...the biggest problems are corruption and red tape. Star makes printed circuit boards for a hard drive factory that is literally next door, but bureaucratic red tape means they cannot simply feed the plant via conveyor belt. Instead, they must be put on a truck which drives out, makes a U-turn and drives back in again four times a day, all in the name of Thai bureaucratic efficiency and rules of the special economic zone. But that is a relatively minor problem
Without naming names, one successful Thai software company has had to engage with a local partner to sell to a certain state-owned enterprise, with the partner taking care of the kickback required in landing such a contract.
A major hard drive manufacturer has had to order security to turn the other way and allow the local tambon administration to "steal" plants from his campus in return for planning permission to be granted. Never mind he is the region's biggest employer and is a major contributor to the economy - no bribe, no new cafeteria for his tens of thousands of workers.
A major chip maker had a new wafer fabrication plant penned in for Thailand, but ran into trouble with politicians who asked what was in it for them, so eventually the project went to Vietnam instead.
And the BOI? They are a mixed bag. Many are delighted with the help they have received, many others are frustrated at the extra level of red tape it brings and the subjective treatment from different officers year to year.
For instance, it is impractical to have a single production line with both BOI and non-BOI tax-exempt robots working on the same product, so what happens to the robots and machinery after seven years? Even though many can be upgraded, tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt machinery must be carefully segregated.
I once asked ICT Minister Sitthichai Pokaiudom why every ICT Minister had become a Communications Minister first and IT Minister second? To him, the answer was obvious, because of the sheer size of CAT and ToT, that is where priorities lay. But that is myopic and does not make sense to the younger generation. How much has CAT/ToT grown in the eight years since the ICT Ministry has been around? Put another way, Facebook was founded two years after the MICT was set up and now has half a billion users, while our two SOEs have not grown much.
What can be done to make this country work again? What can we do to make Thailand strong on merit, rather than merely arrogant based on anti-competitive trade barriers? Something needs to be done - but what?
(Source: Bangkok Post, Why kickbacks are holding us all back, 8/12/2010, Don Sambandaraksa, link)
red tape - many small tasks required by government officials (bureaucracy) happy so that they will give needed permission for some activity
corruption - (See Wikipedia on bribery, corporate corruption, and political corruption)
bureaucratic - relating to government departments or officials เกี่ยวกับระบบราชการ slow with many complicated steps, including a lot of complicated rules, details, and processes
efficiency - waste little time, energy and resources in doing a task (minimize time, energy and resources in performing a task) (See glossary) การทำงานอย่างมีประสิทธิภาพ คุ้มค่าเวลาและใช้พลังงานหรือต้นทุนในการผลิตน้อย เพื่อให้ได้ผลผลิตมาก
inefficiency - not efficient, wasting resources and time
inefficiencies - things or business processes that are not efficient (and can be improved)
invaluable - very valuable (and therefore needed)
survey - listing and describing all things in a group or collection of things
kickbacks - money paid illegally to a person who has helped you, a secret payment made to receive an illegal favour
holding us back - not progressing, growing, improving as fast as we could; income and goods produced by businesses are not as good as they could be
printed circuit boards - PCBs, the cards that computer chips are plugged into to make electronics goods and computers
literally Y - Y really means Y (not being used in a loose sense, here: there is nothing between the two factories, they are really next to each other)
feed X into Y - send objects X into place Y, one after another over a period of time
plant - factory
conveyor belt - a long moving "belt" that carries unfinished goods from place to place in the factory where steps in their assembly are completed
U-turn - on a road to turn around, and go in the other direction down the other side of the street
special economic zone - a special area in a country where factories can be belt that produce goods that are given special benefits (such as reduced taxes or tariffs)
minor - small and not important; small; having little influence or effect เล็กน้อย
without naming names - not giving names (because this could cause a problem for the company or person named)
engage - to hire someone to work for you ว่าจ้าง
local partner - a company inside the country who they will run their business with
state - government รัฐ
enterprise - a company บริษัท
taking care of Y - doing task Y (which needs to be done)
kickback - an amount of money that is paid to someone illegally in exchange for secret help or work เงินสินบน, เงินใต้โต๊ะ
contract - a written (or oral) agreement that is legally binding สัญญา
land a contract - get a contract with a company to sell something to them or do some project for them (other companies competing for contract)
security - guards, employess who protect the company's property from theft, damage and harm
turn the other way - look the other way (so they don't see the illegal thing that is happening)
local tambon administration - the basic local government organization in Thailand's provinces
"steal" plants - here "steal" means it was not really stealing, "stealing" was the arrangement for giving the plants to the local government official
campus - a group of buildings in the same walled or fenced off enclosure
permission - allowing someone to do something การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
city planners - government officials who make and enforce a "city plan" that describes what activities and buildings are allowed in different areas of the city
planning permission - when the "city planners" give pernmission for a building or other construction to be done at some site in the city
granted - officially given ให ้
never mind Y - not even considering issue Y (which makes the situation even worse)
employer - a person, company, or organisation that pays someone to work for them as a member of their staff นายจ้าง
major contributor to the economy - a company that adds a lot of value and income to the economy
bribe - money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal สินบน
chip - a computer chip found in computers and other electronic devices
wafer fabrication plant - a factory for making computer chips
penned in - add some additional thing or project to your plans
what was in it for them - what will they get from it, how will they profit or benefit
eventually - at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
BOI - Board of Investment, the Thai government agency that attracts foreign companies to Thailand to build factories and manufacture exports goods in Thailand
mixed bag - have some good points and some bad points too
delighted - very happy or satisfied about something ยินดีมาก,สุขใจ
frustrated - feeling annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from doing what you want (here: building quickly without interference from the government) ผิดหวัง,ท้อแท้ใจมาก
officers - high ranking managers in an organization (government or company)
subjective treatment - when each person (here: government official) does it their own way (if everyone followed standard practices, businesses would know beforehand what to do, so they could produce their goods quicker and at lower cost to benefit consumers)
impractical - not practical, an idea that does not work in the real world, of something that cannot be done or used easily or effectively ไม่เหมาะสมในทางปฏิบัติ, ซึ่งไม่มีประสิทธิภาพเมื่อนำมาใช้งานจริง,ที่ใช้งานไม่ได้
production line - assembly, the place in a factory where goods are assembled and produced (manufactured, put together, built), the "line" meaning a series of steps done by a "line" of employees assembling the good
exempt - permission not to do something
tax-exempt - don't have to pay taxes
segregated - separated and kept in different places
upgraded - improved (and fitted with the newest parts and features so that the machinery can do more)
obvious - clear; easy to see, recognise and understand ชัดเจน
sheer size - great size
priorities - important things that must be done first
myopic - not able to see far into the future (to see the results of your actions)
the younger generation - younger people
generation - a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
SOEs - State-Owned Enterprises, businesses owned by the government
merit - to deserve something (based on what you have done and the goals you have accomplished) ควรได้รับ
competitive - involving competition มีการแข่งขัน
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย
anti-competitive trade barriers - government restrictions on foreign companies and foreign goods (imports)
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