Experts have called for transparency in government advertising and public relations spending, and urged new legislation to ensure this.
Speaking at a seminar on “Laws to Control State PR” yesterday, Thailand Development Research Institute researcher Tippatrai Saelawong urged the state to hold fair tenders for its public relations projects, and he proposed laws focusing on three issues.
First, adverts paid for by the state should not include the photos or names of politicians. Second, PR budgets should be publicly reported annually. And third, those charged with enforcing such laws should be allowed to operate independently.
Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission secretary-general Prayong Preeyachitt said laws to solve specific problems with government PR were necessary. These laws should control the budgets for public relations activities, while transparency and fair enforcement were also needed.
Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) director Mana Nimitmongkol said there could be money leakage, particularly when PR activities and events were organised.
In the private sector, financial leakage, based on an ACT survey, amounts to 30 per cent on average, rising to 50-60 per cent for events.
Mana said distortions in financial management could occur when politicians spent tax money for self-advertisement, and this was regarded as a type of corruption.
Such mis-spending could also lead to distortions in the market mechanism, he said. Based on the survey, a large amount of this money fell into the hands of companies with political connections.
First published: The Nation, September 20, 2014