The Thai government is drawing up legislation to manage the risk of corruption in public procurement, following the UN Development Programme’s ‘integrity risk assessment’ of the country’s public purchasing system.
The assessment found evidence of “weak integrity in public contracts” and a concentration of improvements in public services in Bangkok and the central region, leaving “significant deficiencies” in other parts of the country.
Risks to integrity in Thailand’s non-regulated public procurement process are “rife” because of the large amounts of money at stake and the interface between the government and private sector, which is characterised by a high volume of transactions.
The regulatory framework for public procurement in Thailand is based on 1990s best practice and not an international legal model, the assessment added.
It recommended the adoption of a “coherent, sound and modern public procurement law with a full set of secondary legislation, including guidance and documentation”.
“We have set up a team of experts to draft and propose the new Public Procurement Act based on international legal models,” said Chunhajit Sangmai, deputy director-general of government agency the Comptroller General’s Department.
“The reform goal is to improve both integrity and value for money,” she added.
The assessment was conducted as part of the ‘Mitigating Risks to Integrity in Public Procurement project’, established by UNDP Thailand with key stakeholders in the Thai Government, including the Offices of Public Sector Development Commission and Public Procurement Management Department and the State Enterprise Policy Office.
It recommends a 20-point action plan including modernising the public procurement system based on economic, integrity, environmental and social goals.
“The integrity risk assessment is a systematic and coherent approach, subjecting all the main components of the public procurement system to analysis and change,” said Nakornkate Sutthaprida, deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission.
“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,” he added.
The UNDP resident representative for Thailand, Luc Stevens, added corruption in public procurement reflects wrongdoing within a 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,” he added.