Corruption index slightly improved

The Corruption Situation Index, a survey carried out by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) on graft, improved slightly in December but the overall position still indicates rampant corruption in Thailand.

Sauwanee Thairungroj, the university's president, said the index rose slightly to 3.9 points in December compared to 3.5 points in the previous survey in June, 2012. However, graft remains serious as the points are below 5 out of 10.

According to the survey, "tea money" still persisted in the last fiscal year at 30 to 35% of government spending, with a potential leakage of as much as 330 billion baht.

UTCC has conducted the survey since 1999, when tea money averaged about 10% of the budget, but the rate has risen to 30% in the past 3-4 years.

Thanavath Phonvichai, vice president for research at UTCC, said despite the improvement, the university still considered that Thailand had "failed an exam", as the corruption figure had fallen below 5, and the survey found most people remain concerned about graft, particularly in the rice pledging scheme, the 350-billion baht water management budget and the government's 2.2-trillion-baht infrastructure spending plan for the next seven years.

The survey also showed that about 48% of 2,400 respondents covering the business, public and government sectors, still expect that the corruption situation in Thailand will get more severe this year, mainly because of the government's massive spending plans.

Utit Buasri, director of the Bureau of Policy and Strategy of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said last year the office had received 7,955 graft complaints. The complaints are expected to rise by 3,000 cases in 2013.

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