Online permits to avoid graft


BANGKOK: The government plans to introduce an online application process for state licences and permits in an effort to tackle bribery.

According to Areepun Charoensuk, senior adviser at the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, digital applications for construction permits can reduce corruption as the state authorities who grant licences will not personally interact with applicants.

“It will be zero touch,” she said. “Those who apply for a licence or a permit can just scan or photograph the documents and submit them in digital formats via an application or software system. They will be sent immediately to the relevant government agencies.”

According to a report by Isra News Agency, a house in Bangkok has a total extra expense of between B10,000-30,000 to get all permits related to construction.

Applicants and authorities will have no chance to meet each other, which can help minimise the opportunity to both offer and ask for bribes.

OPDC is awaiting budget approval to develop the improved government services, Ms Areepun said.

The commission is working on improving ease of doing business through the Licensing Facilitation Act 2015, which was enacted in July 2015. The act aims to facilitate licensing and set government service standards.

The act will require manuals detailing documentation required for each government service, fees and how long an application will take to be approved.

“It will be more transparent,” Mrs Areepun said in a seminar entitled “Construction permits: a convenience you have to pay for?” held last Friday (June 22) by the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand.

“The digital system will help simplify the permit application process. We aim to reduce the processing time by 30-50%,” she added.

There is a preponderance of laws related to licensing for around 300 key government services.

With the digital system, all will be gathered into one channel in a single form, called “Doing Business Portal” with a one-stop service concept, which will be completed in the next three years.

Among the laws related to licensing, the construction permit is one of the key licences in the property sector.

Tortrakul Yomnak, a former president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, said acquiring construction permits creates extra costs of around 1% of project value, citing the report by the World Bank.

He said the bribes being paid to obtain construction permits faster remain low in Bangkok. In provinces, local administration authorities charge 40 baht per square metre.

Sun Sukukavadee, senior management at SET-listed developer L.P.N. Development Plc, suggested the government close legal loopholes related to construction permits, like the Environmental Impact Assessment report, as they leave applicants open to authorities’ mercy.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on July 1, 2017 by Bangkok Post

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