BANGKOK - Perceived corruption has hit the lowest level in five years, thanks to greater awareness of the problem and scrutiny by society, according to a survey.
"People have acknowledged that the corruption situation in the country is getting better as they see more action on corruption cases by the government, the National Council for Peace and Order and the public sector, while the value of corruption has dropped from the previous year," Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said yesterday.
The corruption situation index improved to 49 points last month from 46 in June.
The survey by the university and the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand found that the cost of bribes has dropped to the lowest level in five years to 5-15 per cent - Bt50.25 billion-Bt150.76 billion - of the total budget.
Bribes had accounted for 25-35 per cent from 200-03, and 15-25 per cent in June.
With lower bribes, Thailand will face lower losses of about Bt100 billion-Bt200 billion a year to its budget. This money could be spent to drive the economy up by 0.5-0.7 percentage point.
Saowanee Thairungroj, president of the university, said the survey of 2,400 respondents showed better perception among the general public about the corruption situation in the country.
The trend of corruption in the future also increased from 47 points in the June survey to 50 points in December. The seriousness of corruption problems index climbed up from 39 to 42, and the prevention of corruption problems index from 46 to 51.
The index on corruption suppression rose from 48 to 54, and for ethics and awareness of corruption from 49 to 51.
The confidence in anti-corruption agencies index increased slightly from 5.2 to 5.23, and in the private sector's help in the fight against corruption from 5.1 to 5.38. Confidence in the press and media for anti-corruption coverage was up from 5.54 to 5.65.
Causes of corruption problems start with lax enforcement of laws and regulations and include no mechanism to enforce laws or inefficiency in enforcing laws, low ethics and morals, delays and complicated procedures in dealing with government agencies, and low incomes for government officials.