UNDP helps Thailand towards a corrupt –free public procurement system

Jan 7, 2015

New UNDP assessment outlines recommendations for Thailand to have a public procurement system free from corruption and fraudulent practices

BANGKOK, Thailand, 7 January 2015 – Public procurement is seen as one of the most exposed risk areas to corruption and fraudulent practices in any country. The sheer extensive volume of business transactions that take place involving private and public sector bodies, potentially offer great opportunities for irregularities and private gains, claims a recent United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) integrity risk assessment. Today, UNDP and key partners met to discuss how to mitigate the risks in the public procurement process following the completion of the new integrity risk assessment. The objective of the assessment was to determine the standard and performance of Thailand’s public procurement system and to identify and integrate relevant best practices.

At the event, key experts and senior officials met to review the assessment findings and recommendations. UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Thailand, Luc Stevens said, “Corruption in the context of public procurement is very much a reflection of corruption within a given society more generally. Therefore, fighting corruption in public procurement cannot be isolated from the overall effort for improved integrity in a society covering all aspects of public life.”

The assessment states international statistics indicate that public procurement may represent more than 10-20 per cent of gross domestic product and that in some countries, as much as 30 per cent of national budgets are allocated for the acquisition of goods, services and works. Risks to integrity in the procurement process can range from simple administrative mistakes to corruption, collusion or abuse of public resources. These risks are rife in procurement in Thailand because of the large amounts at stake and the interface between the government and the private sector.

In addition, the assessment highlights the regulatory base for public procurement in Thailand is weak, fragmented and does not reflect international legislative practice. The main characteristic is the fact that public procurement is not regulated by law which is common practice in most countries.  In Thailand, the regulatory framework is not specifically modelled on any of the international legal models, but rather on international “good” practice stemming from the early 1990s.

Mr. Nakornkate Sutthaprida, Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission said, “The integrity risk assessment is a systematic and coherent approach, subjecting all the main components of the public procurement system to analysis and change. Not only does it provide a framework to identify, detect, and mitigate integrity risks in the procurement process, it also helps promote good governance across the government administration.”

Findings from the assessment suggest weak integrity in public contracts have a negative impact on essential public services for human development, such as health, water and education. Despite the graduation of Thailand from middle income to upper middle income country, improvements in the quality of public services have been concentrated in Bangkok and the central region, leaving significant deficiencies in other parts of the country and contributing to unequal human development outcomes. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to the credibility and efficiency of a public procurement system to be free from corrupt and fraudulent practices. To achieve this aim, UNDP Thailand with the Office of Public Sector Development Commission, the Office of Public Procurement Management Department of Comptroller General’s Department Ministry of Finance, Anti- Corruption Organisation of Thailand, State Enterprise Policy Office and other key stakeholders, established the Mitigating Risks to Integrity in Public Procurement project. Conducting an integrity risk assessment in public procurement was a key objective of the project.

In terms of recommendations, the assessment claims that much can be done to mitigate the integrity risks in public procurement by various measures. However, the assessment stresses that there are definitely limitations to what can be achieved, unless there is a firm will and commitment from key stakeholders in the society to reform the political, administrative and business culture and practice in a country. Recommendations involve implementing a 20-point action plan that includes, developing the policy framework as part of a national strategy to reform and modernise the public procurement system based on a revised set of priorities, which would include economic, integrity, environmental, and social goals. Other activities involve adopting a coherent, sound and modern public procurement law with a full set of secondary legislation, including guidance and model documentation.

Taking on board the recommendations cited in the integrity risk assessment, Ms. Chunhajit Sangmai, Deputy Director-General, Comptroller General’s Department said, “We have set up a team of experts to draft and propose the new Public Procurement Act based on international legal models. The reform goal is to improve both integrity and ‘value for money’.” 

Contact information

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Angelique Reid UNDP Thailand, Communication and Partnership Officer

Mobile: + 66 (0)94 965 2272

Email: angelique.reid@undp.org

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