Thailand’s first effort in measuring impacts of regulations appeared in 1988 when the Council of Ministers passed the Regulation of the Office of the Prime Minister on Rules and Procedure for Submission of Any Matter to the Council of Ministers for Consideration. The aforesaid Rule required any agency which submitted any regulation, especially the Bill, to the Cabinet for policy approval to propose an analytical statement on social, economic and international relations perspectives of such regulation together with the submitted regulations.
The outstanding objective of the 1988 Rule was to reduce the submission of regulations that caused red-tape and duplication in public governance which was compliant with the notion of “deregulation,” the fashionable thought of that day.
Upon the 1988 Rule, the agency which submitted the regulation to the Cabinet for policy approval and the Cabinet’s Secretariat played important role in the RIA process. The agency which submitted the regulation shall also propose the RIA’s analytical statement on social, economic and international relations impacts caused or might be caused by the proposed regulation altogether with the regulation. The Cabinet’s Secretariat was placed to review that statement deliberately and commission with the duty to provide possible and appropriate solutions to the Council of Ministers for making decision whether such legislation should be enacted.
If the aforesaid objective was fulfilled, the policy approval of the Cabinet on each regulation was presumed to be made upon sufficient evidences and rationale.
Unfortunately, the objective of the RIA procedure under the 1988 Rule had never filled up. RIA was the new idea for Thailand at that time. There were only a few officials who realize the RIA’s objective and its significance while the Cabinet failed to entrust specific agency to make them know to both public and all government officials. No one knew how to complete the requirements of the 1988 Rule that required the government agency to conduct RIA in “social, economic and international relations impacts caused or might be caused by the proposed regulation” properly and academically.
In addition, the 1988 Rule provided no explanation or details on how to proceed with the requirement, especially in measuring the cost-benefit relationships of the submitted regulation which shall be considered upon economic perspective. Even the Office of the Cabinet’s Secretariat which was the agency responsible for the examination of the RIA’s statement for the Council of Ministers had just a little bit technical knowledge thereon. The Office of the Cabinet’s Secretariat was undoubtedly unable to examine regulatory impacts and unable to give advice to all government agencies on how to conduct appropriate regulatory impact assessment.
As a result thereof, the RIA’s analysis statements submitted to the Cabinet together with the regulations mostly be made in form of a piece of paper annexed to the proposed regulation with no detail of impact analysis but with the short answer of “yes” or “no” on social or economic impact produced or might be produced by the submitted regulations. It should be noticed that many regulations were submitted to the Cabinet for policy approval without the RIA’s analysis papers after the 1988 Rule came into force since the Rule left the room for the government agency to submit only the draft regulation if it deemed “rushed.” So, the first try of the Thai government to annex RIA to its policy approval procedure ended up with unsatisfactory outcome.
The disappointing result of the 1988 Rule urged the Cabinet to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the RIA process with a view to push deregulation policy ahead. The Council of Ministers then, in 1992, made such requirement more clearer by adding the 1988 Rule with details of specific impacts to be considered by the agency, viz. impacts on government policy, political responsibilities of the Cabinet, national macro and micro economic, finance and budget, interested parties, technology and environment, rights and liberties of individual and on duplication with the existing regulations. Furthermore, no room left for the rushed regulation this time. All regulations had to be annexed with the RIA’s analysis statement without exemption. Nonetheless, the government of that day still paid no attention in providing the government officials with correct and appropriate understanding in the making of the regulatory impact assessment. The RIA statements after 1992 measure were still made on the answer of yes or no basis.
After the Great Asian Financial Crisis in 2000, the Administration realized that deregulation policy was inter alia escalated the crisis, especially deregulation in financial sector. The government of that day then set the new course of RIA as a mechanism for deregulation to be a tool for the making of “better regulations” to strengthen Thailand’s economic and social resilient process. The government established the ad hoc committee called the Legal Reform Committee for the Development of the Country (LRCDC), Chaired by H.E. Meechai Ruchupan, the former Speaker of the National Assembly, to conduct legal reform to reach the new paradigm; better regulations.
LRCDC learned from the failures of the governments in the past that better regulation policy could be achieved only when the government officials realize the significant implication in conducting RIA which is an ex ante assessment of the quality of all submitted regulations and the appropriate way to conduct regulatory impacts analysis has generally known to government officials and the general public, especially on cost-benefit relationships which is the most difficult part in making of RIA. LRCDC also aware that there was no responsible agency to provide technical knowledge and know-how in conducting RIA to other government agencies. The last and decisive factor to reach the goal set by the government is that RIA shall be mandatory procedure for the submission of any regulation to the Council of Ministers for policy approval. So, the submission of any regulation without detailed RIA analytical statement thereof should not be allowed to submit to the Cabinet for consideration.
Upon the aforesaid findings, LRCDC proposed the Cabinet in 2003 that the regulatory impact analysis shall be mandatory requirement and one agency should be entrusted as central technical advisor to other government agencies in conducting RIA. LRCDC had also proposed the set of RIA along the same line with OECD’s RIA to the Cabinet for approval. The set of Thailand’s RIA composes of 10 questions to be clarified by the government agencies in relation the proposed regulation as follows:
What are the objectives and goals of the mission?
Who should be responsible for the mission?
Is legislation required for the achievement of the mission?
Is the proposed legislation duplicated with others?
What are burdens of individual caused by the proposed legislation and Is that legislation value for money?
Are responsible agencies ready for the enforcement of the proposed legislation?
Which agency should be responsible for the proposed legislation?
What are working process and audit method?
Is there guideline for the enactment of subordinate legislation?
Is there public consultation on the proposed legislation and what are the results and responses?
The Administration adopt the proposals of LRCDC forthwith and entrusted the Office of the Council of State (OCS), or “Kritsadika” in Thai, the institution which is a legal advisor to the Royal Thai Government, to be central unit that responsible for the duty to equip the government officials with knowledge and know-how in conducting RIA and preparing the RIA statement for Cabinet’s consideration. Another commission of OCS entrusted by the Cabinet on this matter was to prepare and disseminate the explanatory note and manual in conducting RIA to all government agencies and the public and to be technical unit in providing technical knowledge and advices in conducting RIA to government agencies as well.
The explanatory note and manual for regulatory impacts assessment prepared by OCS had been approved by the Council of Ministers on November 23, 2004. Since then, all government agencies have to comply with the RIA manual, which is generally known later as “Checklists,” if they desire to propose any regulation to the Cabinet for consideration.
In 2005, the Royal Decree on Matters to be considered by the Cabinet and Cabinet’s Meeting was enacted and RIA approved by the Council of Ministers on November 23, 2004 had been annexed therein as “to do process” in the case where any regulation is submitted to the Cabinet. Up to present, OCS has disseminated Checklist Manual to government agencies for almost 10,000 copies and put RIA as key subject in Government Lawyers Training Course organized by OCS, both junior and senior level. Additionally, the manual has also been put on the website of the OCS for free access by the public as well.
Though the ex ante assessment has been developed and bold implementation by all government agencies brings satisfactory outcome, OCS still finds that her commission has not yet completed. Better regulation shall, in OCS’s perspective, come up with the “better life.” There should also be a tool for evaluation as to whether the enacted regulations cause the people the better life. OCS is therefore in process of studying the appropriate procedure to be used as ex post evaluation based upon the ex post evaluation of regulations of OECD. In the near future when the ex post evaluation procedure has been established and deployed together with Checklists; the ex ante assessment, better regulation shall eventually bring the people their better life.