Debt among civil servants is at an alarming level, explaining why many are tempted by the opportunity to take easy ‘tea money’
The financial status of Thai civil servants is becoming alarming. The National Statistical Office (NSO) recently reported that the level of debt among civil servants has risen sharply since 2006. The average debt per household for civil servants this year topped Bt872,388 compared to 2006 when the average household debt was Bt657,449.
Unfortunately, the income of civil servants has not risen commensurate to their debts. In fact, 84.1 per cent of all civil servants are indebted, compared to 81.6 per cent in 2006. If this level of debt continues to rise, most Thai civil servants will be close to bankruptcy.
These figures are worrying indeed, as most civil servants are paid through taxpayers’ money. A dire financial situation can lead any person – especially those with low morale and lower moral values – to abuse their authority. If they are in debt and have the opportunity to rectify that situation quickly, they are more likely to seek under-the-table commissions or “tea money” for services that should be provided as part of their public duty. The financial crisis and resulting credit crunch has shown how human beings can make unwise decisions and then resort to corruption to get them out of a bind.