Transparency International released the results of its 2017 CPI on Wednesday (Feb 21). It saw the nation rank 96 out of 180 countries with a dismal score of 37 out of 100.
Although this marked an improvement from 2016, the score still lagged behind the global average of 43.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said he would assign the Justice Ministry and anti-corruption directorate centre to study the reasons for Thailand’s low score, suggest fixes and report on any progress they make. He had known all along since the coup in 2014 that democracy is included in the corruption perception index survey, and it must be accepted if Thailand has to lose marks for this factor.
He said, however, it is not for the government to say whether it is pleased with the result, but to look into the factors that contribute to changes in the scores. He said the government will work on graft prevention and leave corruption suppression to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
When asked about the luxury watch scandal involving Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and whether this would have affected Thailand’s score, Mr Wissanu said he thought that unlikely.
NACC secretary-general Worawit Sookboon pointed to the report’s mention of Thailand’s strengths: a positive view of the country by businesspeople, good international relations, and a strong justice system.
He said Thailand’s score suffered due to the nation’s slow march toward democracy – a much-delayed general election is now expected early next year – which is needed to boost a free market economy.
“The decreased scores likely came from an analysis of our political system,” he said.
“Although the government has contributed to national security, peace and order, and can help restore our natural resources, an examination of people linked to the government, revelations of the slow progress of certain investigations, limits to press freedom and the low participation of the public all count as weaknesses,” he added.
Thailand has seen its competitiveness plummet due to ineffective law enforcement and a slow embrace of democracy, he said.
He called for an improved system of checks and balances, and greater scrutiny of suspected corruption among officials in the administrative, legislative and judicial branches.
NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit said he was not satisfied with the CPI result. The National Economic and Social Development Plan set a goal of reaching a score of 50 by 2021.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party acting deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said he has not seen the government make many positive achievements since it took power in a 2014 coup. Moreover, he said, the score has worsened from 38 in 2015.
Bandid Nijathaworn, secretary-general of Thailand’s Private Sector Collective Action Coalition against Corruption, welcomed the new score and ranking.
“But there are many more things we must continue to do because corruption is still a major challenge here in our country,” he said.
“The public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must put in even greater efforts to ensure corruption is tackled. A successful attempt would continue to drive our score up further,” he said.
“The private sector also has a key role in applying good corporate governance principles and being part of the solution,” he said.
Every firm must establish anti-corruption policies and compliance systems to prevent bribery. The public sector must also streamline processes and reduce large discretionary powers granted to officers, which could leave the system open to bribery.
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