By ERICH PARPART
THAILAND has regulations in place to tackle crucial problems such as human trafficking, but it was hard to implement them during the political problems and corruption faced in recent years, a member of the junta's economic advisory board said yesterday.
However, now that the political situation has been stabilised after the coup, and the military leadership has also vowed to get to grips with the problem of corruption, the next step during and after the country’s “reform” process is to follow international standards in regard to human trafficking, said Narongchai Akrasanee, former commerce minister and now economic adviser to the military’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Speaking before delivering a speech at a seminar arranged by the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, he said the political turmoil of the past years had hampered the country’s ability to tackle the problems of human trafficking, illegal labour and environmental issues, despite the measures already in place, and the intention and efforts to do so.
“We have measures against it [human trafficking], we are aware of the problems, and we wanted to do more, but there were internal struggles and political barriers that prevented us from accomplishing the task,” he explained.
On the United States’ decision to downgrade Thailand to Tier 3 in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report, Narongchai said: “Thailand is a significant country in terms of trade and investment for the region, and that is why we are getting all the international attention, so what we have to do as the next is to follow the formula of international standards and practices.”
As for the NCPO’s economic policy, the adviser said that because recent political developments had unblocked earlier barriers, such as delayed projects under the Board of Investment along with the issue of long-overdue payments to rice farmers, the outlook for the economy should be positive in the second half of the year.
“Things that were blocked have been unblocked, and our economy is going to pick up since the decline has been arrested and now we can concentrate on getting back on the right track of economic development,” he added.