Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thailand’s Widespred corruption undermining business, causing companies to invest money elsewhere

Few firms caught for bribery and illegal acts, researcher tells panel; fears for impact on development

Bribery, red tape and corruption have to be reduced before Thailand becomes non-competitive and unsuitable for many corporations, which would seek to invest elsewhere, a roundtable on corporate good governance concluded last week. Building a climate of good governance will take years and will also require the government to be less corrupt than it is.

Big multinational corporations with their own codes of conduct may claim they no longer bribe politicians or bureaucrats. But if the climate is such that it demands bribes or bribes are offered by their competitors, these corporations may lose out given the lack of a level playing field, warned a specialist in economic governance at the Thailand Development Research Institute.

Recent research revealed that out of the more than 200 cases of illegal practises by firms listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand from 1999-2010, those punished were just slightly over 5 per cent. Many of these cases involved fraud worth Bt3 billion-Bt4 billion, and given the low rate of punishment and fines, which on average amounts to Bt500,000-Bt1 million, it all seems worth the risk to break the law.

It's still legal for a government minister to endorse a contract with a bidding firm that is owned by the minister's son or daughter.The Nation, Bangkok

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