Thailand introduces new law to cut down on red tape

The National Legislative Assembly.

In a move to cut down on red tape and offer "one-stop service", the National Legislative Assembly has passed a law that shortens the procedure for getting government approvals and licences.

The law will be enforced in July, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.

Under the law, government agencies are required to set up clear procedures for granting approvals or licences requested by people, he said.

"We hope this will get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy and every government unit will be able to tell people how long it will take for their requests to be approved or their licences to come through," Wissanu told reporters.

There are as many as 800 laws requiring people to have government approvals or a licence for certain activities concerning their livelihood or business, but the related government agencies have no clear procedures or information on how long the process will take, he noted.

The 18 Article law, which was announced in the Royal Gazette on January 22, requires all ministries, provincial authorities and agencies, including those at the local administrative level, to create handbooks providing clear information on the work timeline and procedure for granting approval and licences.

"The handbook must say clearly how long it will take for the approval and which unit and who in the unit is responsible for these matters," he said. Agencies or officials who fail to comply with the handbook will be punished, he said.

Article 10 of the law says that people have the right to know when their request will be approved and officials are obliged to keep them regularly updated on the progress.

"If the approval is delayed, agencies or officials are required to inform the applicant of the progress every seven days," it says.

The law also encourages government agencies to coordinate and cooperate to provide "one-stop services" to the people, he said.

"For instance, a mining licence would require an approval from the Industry Ministry as well as the Resource and Environment Ministry among others," he said.

This law does not apply to licences or approvals for projects involving natural resources and environment.

Pong-ard Treekitvatanakul, deputy secretary-general of the Public Sector Development Commission, said the commission was working with government agencies to have them improve their service before the law is implemented in the next 180 days.