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Corruption costs Thailand US$6b a year
Publication Date : 29-01-2013
An average of US$6.42 billion (192.6 billion baht) a year illegally flowed out of Thailand between 2001 and 2010, and a large portion of this was believed to be earned through corruption, an anti-graft campaign group has said.
The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT), citing results of a study by the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI), yesterday pointed to the seriousness of corruption in Thailand. It said the public lost the opportunity to benefit from a huge amount of money that could have been spent on social welfare, education, and wealth redistribution.
"The illegal outflows of money were a great loss for the country. We lost the opportunity to spend it on national development," said Thawatchai Yongkittikul, an executive member of ACT. "Corruption, therefore, is a severe threat to the country."
He said most of the illegal financial outflow was income from corruption, crimes, the drug trade, and tax evasion.
Citing the GFI's report "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2001-2010", Thawatchai said illicit outflows to developed nations averaged $586 billion per annum over the period. In 2010 alone, the outflow totalled $859 billion.
"Over the decade, illegal financial outflow grew six-fold, up from 66 billion baht to 371 billion baht," Thawatchai said. He called for measures to curb the illegal outflow and to prevent possible irregularities involving expensive government projects.
Thailand ranked 13th in terms of the outflow size among the 143 developing countries studied, according to the GFI report. There are four other Asean countries in the top 20, the others being Malaysia (third place), the Philippines (6th), Indonesia (9th), and Brunei (20th).
"Asia, accounting for 61 percent of cumulative outflows, was still the main driver of such flows from developing countries," said the report, which was released in December 2012.
ACT chairman Pramon Suthiwong said the organisation would this year focus on changing people's lax attitude about corruption.
'Policy corruption is the worst form of graft'
Meanwhile, the Office of Reform for Fair Society yesterday denounced "policy corruption" as the worst form of graft in Thailand.
"Policy corruption has worsened the problem of corruption in Thailand," said Poldej Pinprateep, who heads the agency's working group studying the graft problem.
"Graft has reached its highest point in development. Cabinet members have a lot of power under the Constitution and this makes it easy for them to become corrupt," Poldej said.
He added that "policy corruption" is rare in wealthier Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan, where the anti-corruption forces are stronger.