Special Report: PM stresses importance of transparency

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed transparency in the administration of the public sector, which would lead to reform in Thailand and the development of sustainable democracy.

In his keynote address at a recent annual seminar on the implementation of the Official Information Act B.E. 2540 (1997), the Prime Minister urged government officials to be aware of the importance of the disclosure of official information to ensure transparency and good governance.

The Official Information Act has been in use for 17 years now. According to the Act, a state agency should at least publish certain official information in the Royal Gazette, such as the structure and organization of its operations and a summary of important powers, duties, and operational methods. It should make the official information available for public inspection in accordance with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Official Information Board.

If a person makes a request for any official information other than the official information already published in the Royal Gazette, or already made available for public inspection or public study, and if the request is reasonably specific, the responsible state agency should provide it within a reasonable period of time.

Almost all official information should be revealed to the public, while only some categories of information that the State may keep confidential are exempted from disclosure.

Prime Minister Prayut said that information and communication technology had been adopted to disclose official information. He pointed out that the Official Information Act would create more trust between officials and the general public. This would prevent conflicts and enable Thailand to move forward. He referred to the Government’s policy of fighting corruption in the reform agenda. The policy involves the promotion of good governance in public sector reform and the amendments of laws to prevent and suppress corruption and conflicts of interest.

He stated that the Government considers anti-corruption efforts to be an urgent issue in the reform process of all areas. There was good news that in 2014, Thailand’s global corruption ranking had improved to 85 out of a total of 175 countries and territories, compared with a ranking of 102 in the previous year. Thailand received a score of 38 out of 100. In the Asia-Pacific region, the index rated Thailand 12th among 28 countries.

Apart from the keynote address by the Prime Minister, representatives from both the public and private sectors also joined discussions on the topic “Information and Thailand Reform.” At the seminar, 105 government agencies were presented with awards for their transparency standards by Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana. On this occasion, the Government Public Relations Department (PRD) received an award as a model agency in establishing an official information center.