Political interference and prevailing corruption may stall the country's provincial development plans, while inappropriate development projects would do more harm than good to provincial development, warns a study by a private firm.
Natthapol Leelawathnanan, the managing director of Excellent Business Management Co, said the study showed existing provincial development plans mostly involve construction projects in which political interference is prevalent.
Excellent Business Management was hired by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the government's planning unit, to evaluate Thailand's provincial development.
Upcountry development has been promoted since 2001, with 100 billion baht spent each year.
Mr Natthapol said the company proposed the government improve the structure of provincial administration committees by including officials such as those from natural resources and environment, tourism and sports, agriculture, commerce, and social development and human security ministries.
The NESDB should also prepare a provincial development plan for each province to standardise all provincial development plans.
"High-ranking officials should participate in formulating the development plans. This will make them aware of real demand in each province," said Mr Natthapol, adding that the development should focus on clusters or a group of provinces rather than specific development of an individual province.
Silaporn Buasai, deputy director of the Thailand Research Fund, said engagement with people and development could reduce political interference in the provinces.
"The budget for provincial development is large enough, but spending is inefficient," she said. "Most of the budget has gone for construction projects such as roads and dams."
Ms Silaporn suggested the government develop information centres in each province and design systems to monitor and evaluate their annual development.
Thanin Pa-em, an NESDB deputy secretary-general, said provincial development and local administration will play a more significant role in national development once Asean becomes a single market.
"Border cities will play a vital role, as they will become international checkpoints boosting trade and tourism," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter