Thailand “should tax sex workers and bribes’

BANGKOK (The Nation): Increasingly hungry for state revenues, the Thaksin government received an unusual proposal from the national think tank yesterday that the sex trade should be legalized to boost the country’s coffers. The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) also suggested legalizing some corrupt practices by, for example, turning bribes into “tips” to be shared by staff of state agencies. The proposals coincide with the government’s declared determination to expand Thailand’s tax base amid growing public concern over state spending on health care and grass-roots stimulus programs. “The government has assigned us to gather information and provide it with a broad and clear picture of underground businesses by May,” said Chakramon Phasukavanich, Secretary-General of the NESDB. The think tank has floated the ideas of people paying a little more for “special services” from officials, and of men and women working in the sex industry being required to pay taxes. Relevant ministries and agencies have also been asked to advise the NESDB what activities or services state officials use to charge additional “facilitation fees” and how the money can be turned into “welfare benefits” for the officials, said K. Chakramon. The additional service charges would not go into the central government budget, but would be shared among officials in those organizations, much the same as happens now in a more covert manner. The main purpose is to bring under-the-table business out into the open with clear rules that everyone agrees to, said K. Chakramon. This would solve the corruption issue by giving it another name, and people could expect better services from the government officials, he said. For the full Nation story see

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