11 July 2024

Thailand’s Progressive Movement has expressed hope that its draft Bill, to amend Section 147 of the Constitution and decentralise local administration, will pass its first reading inthe joint session of parliament.

The joint session is expected to consider the Bill, co-signed by 765,591 people and submitted by the Progressive Movement, this late afternoon (Tuesday) or tomorrow.

Key members of the movement, led by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, gave a press conference about the Bill at parliament this morning.

Thanathorn explained that the Bill seeks a 50:50 allocation of taxes collected locally, so local administrative bodies can have sufficient funds for local development and the ability to manage local affairs, without the need to seek funding from provincial governors or their MP.

The Bill also seeks greater independence for local administrative bodies in managing local affairs, so they can design their own development plans to meet local requirements, rather than the current top-down approach.

The third objective of the bill, said Thanathorn, is for a referendum to be held to ask the people whether the regional or provincial administrative systems are still needed.

Thanathorn said that it would be normal for legislators to disagree with details of the movement’s proposals, which can be worked on later, after the first reading passage of the Bill. Alternatively, parliament can ditch the bill in its final reading, he added.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, meanwhile, insisted that the Bill is not intended to benefit the movement itself, but is for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.

He said that decentralisation of power to local administrative bodies will lead to a better check-and-balance mechanism, which will help reduce corruption in government bureaucracy, citing some research studies.