ACT claims billions in state funds saved

ACT claims billions in state funds saved

Agency plans 'big data' use to fight corruption

Chairman Pramon Sutivong (right) and members of the private Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) group claim to have rescued 25.1 billion baht from graft. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
Chairman Pramon Sutivong (right) and members of the private Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) group claim to have rescued 25.1 billion baht from graft. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) celebrated its 7th anniversary Wednesday, with chairman Pramon Sutivong saying the organisation has helped save 25.1 billion baht of state funds that could have been lost to corruption over the past seven years.

Mr Pramon credited the push for the State Procurement Act of 2017 and the initiation of an "integrity pact" that helped ensure transparency and competition in government contracts.

Since 2015, the pact has brought together 73 government agencies with projects totalling 875 billion baht. Among these, 45 procurement projects worth 104 billion baht have already been signed.

The scheme helped the government save approximately 25 billion baht that would otherwise be lost to corruption in the form of tea money or bribes, Mr Pramon said.

The pacts help ensure greater scrutiny of state projects which minimises the chance that those involved will strike under-the-table deals.

"The ACT has helped reduce the bribery rate from 20-30% to 15-20%. This shows a rising awareness of the corruption problem and attempts to solve it. However, as long as the examination mechanism is weak, corruption will continue to exist," he said.

Another success of ACT, said Mr Pramon, was its involvement in the development of their 2017 constitution which the organisation implemented as an "anti-corruption constitution".

He added that Operation Watchdog, a project to encourage Thai citizens to participate in anti-corruption measures, motivated 700 people to help expose over 1,000 corruption schemes.

Mr Pramon said the organisation has requested faster progress in the case in which Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon is being investigated for his undeclared ownership of tens of millions of baht of luxury watches.

Mr Pramon, however, said all stakeholders, especially the public and the government, need to be committed and involved in the fight against corruption.

"We will receive cooperation from this government and the prime minister's anti-corruption policy," Mr Pramon said.

"But some government agencies still refuse to let go of their authority so the retrieval of information still faces occasional hurdles. We need to connect more with the network domestically and internationally so that we can strengthen our ability to collect information," Mr Pramon added.

ACT vice chairman, Wichian Pongsathorn, said data technology will be employed with a corruption monitoring system to ensure an environment that has zero tolerance for graft.

Data technology will also be used to manage its internal database to optimise the organisation's work, Mr Pongsathorn said.

In the next step, the anti-corruption group plans to develop corruption-fighting measures through the use of big data and analytics, and press for the expedition of corruption cases that have not been solved yet such as police reform and Gen Prawit's case, Mr Wichian said.

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