Improving the Local Administrative Structure: Executive Summary

05 Jan 2009
Executive Summary


Autonomy and democracy at the local government level has increased. However, while there have been many positive developments, challenges in the decentralization process remain. In particular, some aspects of decentralization are still opposed by central government agencies. This occurs, in part, because there continues to be ineffectiveness at the local level, as well as a lack of institutional capacity to carry out policy initiatives. The research aims to highlight these challenges, with the objectives of the study as follows:

1. To evaluate the process of decentralization and explore the obstacles in the decentralization process between 1997 and 2008.

2. To evaluate the effectiveness of statutory reforms and other decentralization policies and compare them to similar processes in other countries.

3. To clarify the direction of the decentralization process in Thailand, as well as provide recommendations to ensure state agencies work towards the same policy direction.

4. To contribute to the existing empirical data on Thailand’s decentralization process with the purpose of generating further research.

In order to explore Thailand’s decentralization process since 1997, and to suggest any policy directions for improving and developing local administrative bodies, the team of researchers made the following assumptions:

1. Local governments are public bodies that are established by the modern state and thereby subsidiary to the State.

2. Local governments are local bodies that are granted autonomy to carry out local administrative initiatives.

3. Local governments are bodies that help create the efficient delivery of public services.

4. Local governments are institutions which ensure local democracy.

5. Local governments are bodies that operate with good governance and knowledge.

While policy recommendations of this study are based on the above principles, the purpose of this study is to reveal the challenges that have occurred with respect to: (1) organizational structures of local government bodies; (2) devolution of functions to local administrations; (3) local revenues and fiscal decentralization; (4) reforming the local personnel management system; (5) public participation; and, (6) changing approaches to monitoring local administration.

This study presents an in-depth assessment of each of the six areas mentioned above. Based on the findings, the team of researchers has presented suggestions to improve the process of decentralization in these areas. These suggestions have been defined as short term (1-3 years), medium term (4-6 years) and long term (7-10 years) strategies.