Government’s anti-corruption campaign working, watchdogs say

TF Jun 15_4The government’s anti-corruption campaign is showing positive results at the federal level, a network of anti-corruption groups said last week, although the situation remains troublesome at the provincial level. Meanwhile, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission sent a second list of allegedly corrupt officials containing 152 names to the Prime Minister.

Pramon Sutheewong, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, a network of anti-graft groups, commended moves made by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration to fight corruption. The Prime Minister, however, has said he is not yet satisfied with the results from his own government, and more must be done.

At the national level, the government has changed electronic bidding processes to make bidding more transparent, facilitated greater coordination between anti-corruption agencies and the private sector, supported initiatives and ethical pacts for private firms and in the construction sector – which is crucial to infrastructure development – and has suspended or is prosecuting a number of bureaucrats accused of graft. Prosecuting officials is something that has rarely happened in the past.

Pramon said these measures have brought improvements in the level of corruption relating to the central government. However, provincial procurement had become more riddled with graft because the central government has not yet been able to enforce stricter rules on local authorities’ projects, particularly at the provincial level.

Tortrakul Yomnak, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, said corruption fighters still need to monitor and continue to improve electronic bidding for government projects. Over the past nine years, he said electronic methods had resulted in damage estimated at over $1.6 billion because of collusion on the part of bidders before the start of e-bidding and e-auctions.

Thailand has been ranked the third least corrupt country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by Transparency International, and in the worldwide index improved from 102nd to 85th place last year.

Last month, Prime Minister Prayut suspended or transferred about 100 bureaucrats based on a list prepared by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission. Several who were suspended were the highest-ranking bureaucrats at several ministries.

Last week, the Commission forwarded a second list to the Prime Minister containing 152 senior civil servants it believes are corrupt or involved in graft. The Prime Minister said an internal investigation is underway to check the evidence pertaining to their alleged misdeeds.

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