Local Government Structure in Thailand
(Local Government Structure and Decentralization of Autonomy)
Thai Public Administration
Until 1991, the National Public Administration Act was promulgated to provide three basic levels of public administration in Thailand: central, provincial, and local administration.
The central administration falls under the basic concept of centralization and consists of 15 ministries. Various departments, offices, bureaus, divisions and subdivisions are established in each ministry.
This form of administration comes under the concept of deconcentration, which means that the central government delegates some of its power and authority to its officers who work in provinces and districts. These officers are form various ministries and departments and carry out their work according to laws and regulations assigned by the central government. At present, the provincial administration consists of 75 provinces (excluding Bangkok), 795 districts, 81 minor districts, 7,255 subdistricts or Tambon and 70,865 villages (data in February 2001).
Local Administration in Thailand is based upon the concept of decentralization, which allows local people to participate in local affairs under concerned laws and regulations. At present, there are 2 types of local administrative organization in Thailand. The general type, which exits in every province, is composed of : 1) Provincial Administration Organization, which covers all areas in the province, 2) Municipalities, urban areas with a crowded population and level development ; and 3) Subdistrict Administration Organization whose jurisdiction is over the area of a particular subdistrict outside the boundaries of municipalities. The special type consists of two forms of local government : 1) Bangkok Metropolitan Administration ; and 2) the City of Pattaya.
Under the country's existing administrative structure, authority is delegated from the capital to the region and then to local areas. In general, development policy and planning in Thailand is a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches, while the public administration system of the country is highly centralized.
Thailand has gradually strengthened the capacity of local government. During the 5th and 6th National Plans, local government played a greater role in setting development priorities. Nevertheless, the proposed development plan still have to be agreed upon and the budgets approved by the central government.
To further enhance the role of local government and local development efficiency. The 7th and 8th National Plans called for the decentralization of fiscal authority and asset holding as important mechanisms to help strengthen local administrative capacity.
As the structure and management system of the local government have been put in place by the end of the 8th National Plan, the 9th National Plan (2002-2006) will concentrate upon improving the development capability of the local administrations. Development plans will integrate all aspects, monitoring systems will be enhanced, imformation system upgraded, and human resource capability increased.
Environmental Management by Local Government
According to the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act of 1992, policy and planning mechanisms are taken into account as a strategic tool for decentralization. It allows provincial and local authorities to formulate their own environmental management plans.
The implementation process of policy was adopted according to the Environmental Act. These processes consists of the long-term environmental policy and plan named "Policy and Prospective Plan for Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality, 1997-2016, 5 years Environmental Quality Management Plan, and annual Provincial Environmental Quality
Management Action Plan
Due to the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act of 1992 any province which has its territory designated as an environmentally protected area or pollution control area or any other province which desires to enhance and conserve the environmental quality are eligible to formulate an action plan and submit it to the National Environment Board for approval.
The Provincial Action Plan should be in accordance with the Environmental Quality Management Plan and should take into account social conditions in the area. Crucially, it emphasizes public participation from all parties and at all levels.
In order to guide and assist provincial governments and local authorities in formulating their action plans, the framework of the action plan is set up which consists 1) water quality, 2) air quality, 3) solid waste ; and 4) hazardous waste.
In addition, it should be in harmony with the conservation of their natural resources such as soil and land use, forest and wildlife, fisheries, coastal resources and the natural and cultural environment. It is, however, based on the actual circumstances, conditions and priorities of each area.
The Provincial Action Plan consists of 4 programs, such as 1) public awareness raising program, 2) surveillance and protection program, 3) remedy and rehabilitation program ; and 4) applied research program.
The National Environment Board (NEB) is set up for controlling and supervising at policy level. At the provincial and local government levels, the Sub-Committee for Provincial Environmental Quality Management under the Committee for Provincial Development is set up as an advisory committee for environmental management.
(Prepared by Ms Aree W. Tummakird, Office of Environmental Policy and Planning, Ministry of Science, Technologly and Environment, Thailand, 2001)
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