Competitiveness: Thailand’s 2nd worse for shop-lifting & Thai Intel’s note on flood related corruption

Small crime a massive problem

  • By Pooky, Thai Intel’s economics journalist

CheckPoint, the sales security firm, just found that Thailand is the 2nd worse in Asia/Pacific for shop-lifting with an average store theft of about US$50 and total lost of about US$1 billion baht a year.

In Asia/Pacific, Thailand follows India, the highly populated country, that took the worse country for shop-lifting.

In Thailand, the CheckPoint research found that much of the theft is related to in-store employee theft-but gave little other reasons for the high rate in Thailand.

Some newspaper are reporting the relaxed Thai attitude on corruption overall, being that most Thais sees corruption as normal and ordinary-as the main problem.

Several research on corruption in Thailand have found that the Thais sees corruption as OK, if the one doing the corruption shows results. Overall, Thailand ranking on corruption and transparency is also very low, with the latest score 3.5 out of 10.

No where can this relaxed view on corruption can be seen than when Natural disaster hits Thailand.

A public anti-corruption unit just found that in the current flood, only about 10% of funds for flood relief are effectively being given to those impacted by the flood.

In other natural disaster, such as with the tsunami a few years ago, very well documented corruption took place on massive scale involving a systemic attempt to corrupt away much of the money of the relief efforts.

While in other flooding of the past, food items in the survival bags given out were mostly rotten, because of corruption in the relief bags procurement practices.

The current flooding, was in fact, predicted about a week in advance.

“We sent out the alarm about a week before the flooding that because of corruption in public works construction area, the dams and locks in Thailand can only hold about 70%-80% of water compared to similar dams and locks that are built at global standard, and given the storms coming in and the water levels, there was no way Thailand can escape massive flooding,” said an engineer, about a week before the flood hit much of Thailand.

For a long time, the corruption was so bad the Thai government ceased taking donations from the public and instead told the Thais that the government have the budget for relief efforts.

That is because of massive corruption in the public donation drive that never saw donated and money reached those hurt by natural disaster.

One newspaper in Thailand, for example, is reporting that a relief effort drive at one school, saw teachers telling student to donate whiskey from their parents home because the whiskey would help warm the blood as the cold weather is hitting Thailand, that came on top of the flooding.

The Following is from the Bangkok Post

Graft agency checks flood cash: PACC teams will head to ravaged provinces

Published: 30/10/2010 at 12:00 AM

A graft busting agency will step up its investigations into claims of corruption in the relief effort as billions of baht pour into flood-ravaged provinces.

Ampol Wongsiri, deputy secretary-general of the Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), yesterday said five teams of investigators would head to flood-hit provinces to ensure transparency in flood relief spending.

Their focus will be on provinces that require funds of 50-100 million baht as emergency assistance for flood victims.

A recent PACC investigation found that less than 10% of disaster relief funds reached those in need.

It also found that most flood relief projects worth more than 92 million baht were tainted with irregularities. Out of 373 randomly checked flood projects, 274 had irregularities costing the state more than 50 million baht, Mr Ampol said.

“There are complaints about distribution of relief supplies, but we’re not concentrating on that. The PACC will look into the allocation of budget to see if it is in line with regulations and meets victims’ needs,” he said.

The cabinet on Oct 19 approved an increase of emergency funds to each flood-hit province to 100 million baht from 50 million baht.

Floods have devastated 38 provinces though the situation in 11 has eased, according to the Interior Ministry’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Floods have claimed 94 lives in 20 provinces since Oct 10, according to the Emergency Medical Institute.

Mr Ampol said community organisations are welcome to launch a parallel inspection to ensure transparency in the relief effort.

After the government’s fresh relief measure to allocate 5,000 baht to each flood-affected household, observers are calling for the setting up of a database of flood victims and of a local committee to supervise cash hand-outs.

Suthep Chuchaiya, chairman of Tambon Taling Chan Administrative Organisation in Ayutthaya, said the database is needed to ensure the money goes to those in need.

He suggested the state should cross-check information with village heads, tambon chiefs and administrative organisations before cash distribution.

“Forming a local committee to draw up the list of victims and register them is also a practical idea. It will ensure those who need help get it,” he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier said the government would not allocate money to flood victims through local administrative bodies.

Pira Tangchuthaweesap, chairman of the kamnans and village heads association in the Central region, said money should be distributed through district offices. He said local politicians tend to attend to the needs of their supporters before those of others.

PM‘s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said yesterday that the government had opted to pay cash because many flood victims do not have bank accounts. They would be required to present house registration documents or a letter of certification from kamnans or village heads.

The Council of Economic Ministers is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the format of payment and further flood relief measures.

The Agriculture Ministry and the Education Ministry are working out proposals to alleviate the hardship of farmers and students.

Compensation for damaged crops and delay of tuition fee payments or dormitory rental fees may be raised during Monday’s meeting.