NMT slams local govt reform bills

NMT slams local govt reform bills

Centralisation push 'unconstitutional'

The National Municipal League of Thailand (NMT) has voiced its opposition against two new bills on local administration, saying they are incompatible with the constitution.

The bills in question are the one on the Enforcement of Local Administration Organisations Code and another on Local Administrative Organisations.

NMT's stance was announced by its president and Yala City mayor, Phongsak Yingchoncharoen, at its first annual seminar, held at Challenger Hall 2 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.

The event opened with a speech by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in which he expressed his gratitude to local administrative organisations for their effort in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his remarks, he said local officials play a crucial role in the development of communities and their residents.

"The government has revised a number of rules and regulations relating to local administrative organisations ... in order to improve our services and better serve the people," he said.

However, Mr Phongsak, in his capacity as NMT president, went on to announce the group's objection to the bills proposed by the Department of Local Administration under the Interior Ministry, saying the bills will hold the country back because if passed, they will effectively transfer power from local administrative offices to the central government.

The draft bills are currently undergoing a public hearing process, which will end on March 20.

"If the draft bills are passed, there will no longer be municipalities and tambon administrative organisations, as they will be united under a single body. This action is inconsistent with the principles of political diversity and local governance. Therefore we strongly reject the drafts," he said.

He argued that the bills will limit the authority of local administrations without clearly setting out what local offices can or cannot do.

In the end, he said, the league would like the Department of Local Administration to revise the drafts and bring them in line with the constitution to ensure it will benefit all people.

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