Employment-Intensive Investment in Thailand

Web page | 10 December 2014

Current EIIP Involvement

Country Strategy
The overall objective of EIIP is to support the Thai Government in building local capacity at Tambol level to effectively apply local resource based and employment generating methods in decentralized infrastructure works. In collaboration with the Department of Local Administration (DOLA), the Public Work Department Technical Training Institute (PWD/TTI), the Prince Damrong Rajanuphab Institute of Research and Development of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Chiengmai University and the Khon Kaen University, ASIST-AP developed a project to reach this objective by utilising the following activities:
  • Support the adoption of an improved local level planning system and seek endorsement for its application nationwide by the National Government. This involves (i) research after the existing, and (ii) development of an improved local level planning system (through demonstration projects at local level in selected Tambons).
  • Support the adoption of an improved contract management system and seek endorsement by the National Government. This involves research after the existing, and development of an improved contract management system, as well as the development and expansion of this contract management system through demonstration projects at local level in prototype Tambons.
  • Support the institutionalisation of contract management training for both local officers and small scale contractors through the Institute of the Public Works Department.
  • Support the institutionalisation of training for local officers in Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning.

Approach
The EIIP would like to be of assistance to the current decentralization process towards the Tambon Administrative Organisation, and therefore has set-up a collaboration effort with the various departments and divisions of the Ministry of Interior involved, as well as with the regional universities of Chiengmai and Khon Kaen.

In order to maximize the capacity building effect, a specially assigned TAO task group will soon be set -up to work at committee level with national consultants from universities engaged by the ILO. Also at field level, both DOLA and PWD personnel will be requested to give general assistance in the form of short-term assignments on an occasional basis.

ILO/ASIST sees demonstration at TAO level as an effective way of show the appropriateness of the concepts advocated. Existing planning procedures will be evaluated through reviewing available planning documents, interviewing selected TAO and DOLA personnel, and participating in the actual planning sessions of two selected prototype TAOs. DOLA will request two prototype TAOs in Changmai province and Khon Kaen province for their participation in these case studies. Further assistance to the national consultants will also be provided by DOLA.

Existing contract administration procedures will be evaluated by reviewing existing contract documents and by monitoring actual construction implementation in the field. Two Bamboo Reinforced Concrete Pavement (BRCP) construction projects under the Special Economic Stimulation Budget of the RRD will be selected for case studies and will receive technical advice.

Information on the existing contract administrative systems, as well as the training needs on the side of the contractors will be collected through interviews and questionnaires. These questionnaires will be issued to three target groups: the owners of small construction firms, the engineers/technicians employed by small construction firms, and the engineers/technicians of government departments supervising infrastructure works.

More detailed information shall be obtained by interviewing smaller samples of the same target groups, and PWD staff at field level. Students from the regional universities shall assist in the process of distributing and collecting questionnaires and also in conducting interviews.
Selected regional universities will participate as facilitators and as instructors in the above-mentioned processes. This will evolve into a general collaboration agreement with regional universities for their long-term involvement in further Training, Research and Development activities. The universities should be encouraged to play an important role in conducting the training and also in future fine-tuning of the training system as the contractor needs change.

Historical Information

The ILO has many years of collaboration with the Government of Thailand. Thailand ratified the ILO's Employment Policy Convention (No. 122) in 1969, and, due to its rapid growth, reached virtual full employment by the early 1990s ILO Country Employment Review 2000. Nevertheless, important collaborations were developed with various government institutions to promote the adoption of Labour-Based Construction Technologies, particularly for the less fortunate rural areas. One example of this is a series of 16 “Training Videos for Labour Based Road Construction and Maintenance”, produced in 1991. They have been reprinted on Video CD in 2001 in both Thai and English.

The 1997 Asian Economic Crisis put a temporary break on the rapid economic growth, and subsequent the employment prospects became less bright. As a response, ASIST-AP, a hub of EIIP in Asia, set up various collaborations with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, several of their departments and with various Universities. ASIST-AP also connected with several donor projects that were being implemented, such as the Japanese Government’s Miyazawa Initiative, which promoted the labour based construction of bamboo-reinforced concrete roads, as well as with the World Bank Social Investment Programme. This latter programme, through their Social Fund Office (SOFO), worked with the Ministry of Interior on the creation of employment opportunities and improving infrastructure and services in rural areas.

In 1998 and 1999, ASIST-AP provided technical advice and training to promote the wider application of labour based technology. In 1999, ASIST-AP also conducted a unit cost study of different projects of the Social Funds Office, giving the scientific underpinnings of the improvements that could be made by applying different deigns, therefore increasing the quality of the works, reducing their costs, and using more labour and local inputs. It showed that especially in the construction of roads, bridges and irrigation channels, enormous opportunities lie to reduce costs when applying improved designs of constructions. This doesn’t result in loss of quality or timing, and in fact generates more employment. Another study on the unit costs of small private contractors showed some restraints that small contractors face and the needs for training in order to stimulate the emergence of local small scale contracting capacity.

After a training assessment in December 2001, it was concluded that a concentrated effort is needed to develop a capacity to apply local level planning at Tambol, and to better include small scale contractors in the execution of infrastructure works. As a result, ASIST-AP developed the recent project titled "Strengthening Local Capacity for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure Development for Poverty Reduction in Thailand", in collaboration with the Department of Local Administration (DOLA), the Public Work Department Technical Training Institute (PWD/TTI), the Prince Damrong Rajanuphab Institute of Research and Development of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Chiengmai University and the Khon Kaen University.

Decentralisation
The Eighth National Development Plan initiated the process of decentralization of central governmental administrative responsibilities to local authorities. In relation to this, the Technical Training Institute (TTI) of the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) of Thailand started with a training programme for all 6747 technicians in the local governance structure, the Tambon Administrative Offices (TAO). For this purpose, ASIST-AP developed Guidelines for Local Planning, Appropriate Technology and Employment for Community Development in the Kingdom of Thailand, in collaboration with the Thammasat University.

In December 2000, 75 instructors were trained in the use of this guideline for the conduction of courses for around 3500 officers. In conjunction, the Ninth National Development Plan (October 2001) which was set with the aim to reduce poverty to less than 10% in five years, to promote local development and to create 300,000 jobs annually, reinforced the importance of the Tambon Administrative Organisation in the decentralisation process. The Tambon Administrative Offices (TAO) were instituted with the authority to direct and oversee development activities in their jurisdiction through their local offices. Since a large number of Tambons are still lacking adequate infrastructure, a major portion of the TAO budget is spent on basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supply systems, etc. The capacity to efficiently plan and implement infrastructure projects at local level is therefore vital for sustaining the development of the Tambons.

In order to improve and update the guidelines, to assess the organizational set-up and to explore ways to further promote the adoption of the concepts described in them, ASIST-AP evaluated the first cluster of training sessions. After an evaluation of the training and assessment of the potential for further collaboration, a complete revision of the guideline was deemed necessary. The revised version was developed with technical inputs from advisers from Khon Kaen University and Changmai University, and took into account comments from trainees on the former edition. The focus shifted from the theoretical level towards the current practises of local level planning and labour based technology at local level, and additions or improvements that could be made. As a complement, the first and introductory Video CD of the training modules on Labour Based Road Construction and Maintenance were included in the 3500 copies of the guidelines, while the complete set of Video CDs was made available to all 75 provincial offices in Thailand for reference purposes.

During a training assessment in December 2001, particular attention was drawn to the following facts:
  • Although the guidelines as currently used by the TTI are addressing the issue of local planning in general terms, the actual adoption and application of the concept of Local Level Planning requires a much more profound approach. The local level planning tools will need to be adapted to complement the existing planning system, and will need to be focussed on the circumstances prevailing in Thailand. This requires an understanding of the current planning practices based on research, field testing, and discussions with stakeholders. Only in such a concerted effort can an appropriate planning process be finalized, and training materials developed for replication on a larger scale in a training programme.
  • Most of the infrastructure works under the responsibility of the TAOs are of relatively small scale as compared to central government projects, and require the application of simple construction technologies. The concept of labour-based construction technologies often can be favourably applied, and if the infrastructure projects are carefully planned and properly implemented, the effects on employment generation could be significant. As a small size organizational unit, most TAOs should contract out their infrastructure projects to small scale contractors and not use force-account procedures. Further, small-scale contractors used to make up a large part (90%) of the total number of contractors in Thailand, but their number decreased from 11730 (1996) to 3250 (1999) due to the crisis (ILO/ASIST-AP study 1999). However, in the public construction sector, small-scale contractors mainly operate as sub-contractors to large construction firms. The lack of contract management experience is often mentioned as a major drawback that prevents the small-scale contractors from performing efficiently when directly engaged by the TAOs. Furthermore, complicated government contracting procedures similar to those used in large-scale construction are being applied to small-scale construction, thus further complicating the situation. TAOs also often face various problems resulting in sub-standard work quality, delays in project delivery, etc. A poor contract management system and the inefficiency of the contractors involved have been accepted as key factors contributing to the problems.
From the above it was concluded that a concerted effort is needed to develop a capacity level to apply local level planning at Tambol and to better include small scale contractors in the execution of infrastructure works. 

Further reading

• Planning and Implementing Local Infrastructure Works, Guidelines for Tambon Administrations - PDF 1,813 Kb
ILO ASIST Asia Pacific, 2004
• Small Scale Contracting, Strengthening Local Capacity for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure in Thailand - PDF 4,193 Kb
Aniruth Thongchai, 2004
• Advisory Report on Further Involvement ASIST-AP - PDF 153 Kb
Aniruth Thongchai, 2002