Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Politics in the Process of Establishing Local Development Plan: Case Study of the Lan Tak Fah Subdistrict Administrative Organization, Nakornchaisri, Nakornpathom, Thailand

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Politics in the Process of Establishing Local Development Plan: Case Study of the Lan Tak Fah Subdistrict Administrative Organization, Nakornchaisri, Nakornpathom, Thailand

Article excerpt

Abstract

This research study aims at studying the politics in the process of establishing a local development plan of the Lan Tak Fah Subdistrict Administrative Organization, Nakornchaisri, Nakornpathom, Thailand by qualitative methodology, including documentary and field research. One of the findings is although Thailand's local administration is established under the principle of decentralization, where local peoples' needs will be most directly addressed, the process of establishing the development plan of the Lan Tak Fah Subdistrict Administrative Organization, from strategy selection to implementation, is in fact based on the government's strategies and guidelines. They cover not only the central government's strategies/guidelines, that is (1) National Economic and Social Development Plan (No. 11) 2012-2016 and (2) the government's policy, but also the regional government's ones, that is (1) the provincial development strategy, (2) the community plan, and (3) policy framework, direction, and development guideline of local administrative organizations and Nakornpathom Province. The opportunities open for the Subdistrict peoples' needs to be expressed were merely (1) review of problems and needs from the past years and (2) expressions of further needs in the present year in the form of projects. Moreover, other factors, including publicities, community meetings, especially in making decisions to select projects, and budget allocation, are significant causes of the local development planning process to become a tool for the Subdistrict Administrative Organization to make peoples only the "margin of development." The entire process, therefore, made the Subdistrict's peoples become disinterested in and inattentive from such process. In the end, there is a tendency that peoples will continuously less participate in the process of local development planning. Accordingly, the important recommendation for reform should not limit only to changes in local administrations but also modifications in the central and regional governments' administrations, as appropriate.

Keywords: decentralization, Lan Tak Fah subdistrict administrative organization, local development plan, policy network, political participation

1. Background and Significance of the Problem

1.1 Participation of Peoples in the Process of Local Development Planning

As editors of the compilation of academic articles on "Challenges in Decentralization and Local Administrations in Thailand," Charas Suwannamala and Weerasak Kruatep (2011) stated in the introduction that "decentralization of powers to local administrative organizations has been more significant in the past decades. Many missions in providing public services and managing the government's resources have been transferred to the responsibilities of local administrative organizations. Academic issues and implications to the practicalities at present are: What is the progress of carrying decentralization forward? What are limitations, challenges, or obstacles? How should local administrative organizations modify their roles and duties? Do local administrative organizations possess preparedness and competency in providing public services and managing in resources, finance, politics and administrations? When there are problems or obstacles under various subjects, how can solutions or ways of dealing with problems or limitations be found?".

Throughout different analyses, institutional measures, and macro-level policies which have been raised and compiled in nine articles, the interesting point, which is obvious but hardly receives any interest, is that the status and role of "community meetings" for participations in budget planning in subdistrict administrative organizations "do not actually lead to the satisfactory expected outcomes." This in turn causes "peoples to have doubts in participations in community meetings with local administrative organizations because they could not see that participations in such meetings would render any objective outcome. …

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