The government should show the world it is committed to wiping out corruption swiftly as it could improve the country’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), according to Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
Mr Somkiat said the country had received a low score in the Varieties of Democracy (VDEM) category. The lowest score Thailand received was in the category of Global Insights (GI), measured by the level of corruption in import-export activities and state contracts. For both indicators, Thailand scored between 20-24 out of a total score of 50.
Thailand’s score dropped from 38 points out of 100 in the previous year to 35 in its CPI for 2016. The fall in ranking put it on par with Gabon, Niger, Peru, the Philippines, East Timor, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr Somkiat said it was the first time Transparency International (TI) factored in the VDEM. He said he did not think the the group introduced VDEM to discredit any country. The new indicator was added following a World Bank’ s study on the need to promote democracy to better prevent corruption.
However, VDEM is only one of many factors that could gauge the level of corruption in a country, he said.
Mr Somkiat added Thailand scored well on rules of law but did not show a significant change in other indicators. The country might have retained the previous year’s ranking had the VDEM not been included.
“Actually, our ranking would not have dropped if the VDEM had not been a factor. But the truth is our score has not yet improved and the government must do more to lift it,” he said.
He suggested the government act quickly to deal with corruption scandals garnering public interest, such as the Rolls Royce bribery allegation and the alleged bribes in other cases implicating the PTT, TOT, Metropolitan Electricity Authority and Provincial Electricity Authority. The country must show the world it is serious about stamping out corruption.
Thanee Chaiwat, a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University, said the government should allow greater public participation in observing megaprojects.
He said forming a tripartite group comprising state officials, companies and the public sector that is allowed to monitor budget-intensive state projects is the key to deterring corruption.
First published: Bangkok Post on Tuesday, February 07, 2017