Public accountability was formally imposed on the Thai Government in 1997 when the World Bank compelled public sector reforms as a condition for bailing the country from bankruptcy. Despite regulating to promote public accountability for 20 years, the public accountability of Thai Government is still criticized as poor. However, the specific areas of public accountability needing improvement have not been clearly identified in Thailand. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the Thai Government discharges its public accountability.
Prior literature supported annual reports as essential means by which public sector entities discharge their public accountability, and addressed the desirable aspects of reporting which permit the public’s monitoring of their government’s performance. That is: the account must be publicly accessible, timely, reliable and adequate. This paper evaluates the 2016 annual reports of the Thai Central Government departments against these aspects in tandem with the reporting regulations.
The results show that reliability and timeliness of annual report disclosures are the most problematic, followed by accessibility and adequacy. It was also found that the existing regulations provide only mild sanctions on government officers for their non-compliance. Further, statistical evidence suggests that larger departments report better on voluntary items than departments with smaller revenue.
These weaknesses of the reporting and regulations provide immediate suggestions for public policy regulators as to how to improve the Thai Government’s public accountability. These results are also expected to be useful to international lending institutions to be aware of particular issues when considering their foreign aid programs. Theoretically, the paper supports the necessity of public accountability mechanisms, in particular public sanctions, which need to be strong enough to motivate governments’ public accountability. It also highlights that public accountability aspects can be useful to measure or evaluating public sector reporting in emerging countries such as Thailand.
The authors are very much grateful to Prof. Carolyn Cordery for her mentoring and editorial assistance for all the versions of the paper. The authors also appreciate Mr Nuttapol Areeprastersook, Senior Professional: Public Accounting Division, Comptroller General’s Department of Thailand, for his insightful information. The authors are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. Finally, the authors are appreciative of the feedback from participants at the twenty-first International Research Society on Public Management Conference (IRSPM) at Corvinus University of Budapest (2017) and the 10th International EIASM Public Sector Conference at Lund University, Sweden (2018).
Keerasuntonpong, P., Manowan, P. and Shutibhinyo, W. (2019), "Reforming government public accountability: the case of Thailand", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 237-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBAFM-05-2018-0051
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