While we are living in the digital age where technology plays a very big role in our daily life for a long time the process of dealing with the government is known to be slow and full of unnecessary procedures. Adapting to this change, the government took a huge step towards digitalizing its system when the cabinet of ministers approved the Draft Act on Electronic Performance of Administrative Functions (the “Act”) on 30 March 2021. This drafted Act would revolutionize how Thai citizens interact with governmental agencies for operational and systematic improvement not just for the Thai citizens but for the governmental agencies as well.
Although the Act has not yet been finalized and prone to further revisions, this article summarizes the outline and main perspectives of the current draft to provide a glance at these major legal updates.
Critical Perspectives of the Act
- Scope of the Act
This act will be lawfully binding on all governmental agencies except on (i) State-owned enterprises which are limited companies and public limited companies, (ii) Legislature-related governmental agencies, (iii) Judiciary-related governmental agencies, (iv) Independent entities according to the Thai Constitution, (v) Office of Public Prosecutor, (vi) Other governmental agencies specified in the relevant ministerial regulation.
- Thai citizens can now file any application, pay, or contact governmental agencies by electronic means and the communication will be deemed lawful. Governmental officials cannot reject any filing on the ground that it was submitted by electronic means.
- Governmental agencies will communicate with and issue out any relevant documents to the applicant by electronic means unless the applicant requested otherwise.
- Governmental agencies cannot charge the applicants any governmental fees to certify their documents.
- License holders who are obliged by law to publicly display their licenses can do so by electronic means according to the regulations set by the license issuers. Furthermore, Thai citizens can display pictures of licenses or other identifications that must be always kept in person for the government officials to inspect.
- Electronic communications between governmental agencies, between governmental officials and governmental agencies as well as between governmental officials are deemed to be lawful and can be legally used as an evidence. The electronic communication between government officials can be used as an evidence for disbursement from the state.
- Legislature process
Currently, the draft has been submitted to the House of Representatives Coordination for consideration before proposing the Act to the House of Representatives in subsequent terms.
This draft will significantly speed up bureaucratic process in Thailand and grant Thai citizens much-deserved convenience when dealing with governmental agencies. From the economic perspective, it would save costs and time spent along in the process of document certification and preparation. Thai citizens would not have to carry their identification cards or licenses physically because they can carry it digitally in their mobile gadgets which would reduce the incidents of loss of identifications cards and
licenses. Expecting the increased efficiency, this draft has a huge potential to introduce beneficial changes to both Thai citizens in term of convenience and Thai governmental agencies in term of transparency upon implementation.