UTCC: Corruption ramped up in June

UTCC: Corruption ramped up in June

Corruption remains vibrant and is not slowing, and most people point to the government's controversial rice pledging scheme as providing the biggest opportunities for corruption, a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) concluded.

President Sauwanee Thairungroj said 74% of 2,400 respondents surveyed in the public and private sectors believe corruption grew more severe in Thailand last month compared with 63% saying this last December.

Increased corruption was attributed largely to legal loopholes, a lack of political transparency and no serious law enforcement after irregularities were uncovered.

Corruption is found mostly in the form of kickbacks, tea money, gifts, rewards, political favouritism and nepotism.

The survey of respondents' attitudes and awareness regarding corruption showed most (79%) feel they can no longer accept corruption by the government even if its policies benefit society at large.

Some 16% still see corruption as acceptable if it benefits people and provides a better quality of life.

"This indicates society overall is more aware of the venom of corruption after the previous survey last December found corruption to be acceptable by most as long as government policies benefited society," said Ms Sauwanee.

UTCC calculations show corruption will cost the country 236-383 billion baht this year compared with an investment and disbursement budget of 2.4 trillion.

The figures are based on claims by businesses surveyed that they must pay kickbacks equal to 25-30% of their projects' value to win government contracts.

Thanavath Phonvichai, UTCC's vice-president for research, said increased corruption could slow down the country's development and damage its image and ability to attract more investment.

The value of corruption is estimated at 1.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, much higher than Thailand's overall spending on research and development (R&D), he said.

The R&D budgets of the public and private sectors last year accounted for only 0.2% of the GDP of 11.4 trillion baht.

Mr Thanavath said projects should be monitored closely for bribery, particularly the rice pledging scheme, the 350-billion-baht water management budget and the 2-trillion-baht loan plan for infrastructure development.

"It's also imperative that Thailand sign the 'integrity pact' proposed by the business sector."

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