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OECD representative urges stronger corporate governance

Thailand was urged yesterday to promote corporate governance more strongly even though it has already made a lot of contributions to the creation of the developed world's six CG principles for the region.




"Without a system of good corporate governance, of trust, of accountability and responsibility, it would be very hard for a country or a company to attract the capital they need for investment," Mats Isaksson, head of corporate affairs for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said yesterday.

He said at a press conference after a seminar on OECD-Asian CG that corporate governance was a "means to an end".

It is a way for countries and corporations to attract capital that is needed for investment so that savings in the country can be translated over the financial and the capital markets into real corporations and investments that create jobs and generate economic growth for the whole country, he said.

Chanin Vongkusolkit, a director and senior executive of Banpu as well as a panel member, said regulators had to find ways to create more professional independent directors – those who are not major stakeholders or related to family owners – and encourage collaboration between the public and private sectors to improve corporate governance.

Corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, and environmental, social and governance guidelines must by simplified, since most of them are overlapping and provide unnecessary complication for Thai companies and their boards of directors, he claimed.

Smaller companies are having problems finding independent directors.

"It is very difficult to find independent directors who are suited to their [major stakeholders’] own vision, while some are reluctant to join smaller companies because the pay is low," he said.

The big challenge is "how to make it simple, how to combine them [guidelines] into one, how you communicate it and who does the communicating".

There are many messages, guidelines and rankings on business competitiveness, so the government has to make them "into one if possible", then start providing education and training to companies on that one guideline, Chanin said.

"We have trained around 1,000 vice presidents to become future CEOs and it is now paying off.

"In the training, we do not only tell them about regulations or how to do their best.

"We also have a lot of experienced CEOs come and share their experience and knowledge with the VPs.

"We also emphasise the culture … and ethics that management should have," he said.

Rapee Sucharitakul, a member and secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission and another panel member, said regulators would work on ways to simplify the guidelines.

However, they are just guidelines and the SEC will strive to create awareness of the "real owners" of family businesses.

The regulator will also increase collaboration between various government and private organisations to raise the standards of corporate governance.

Published : October 29, 2015

By : Erich Parpart The Nation