The Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) is a form of present local government, which has been improved and developed gradually. The first establishment of Provincial Council dated back to 1933. Under the Municipality Act, B.E. 2476 (1933), the Provincial Council served local citizens by mean of giving advice to Province Committee, but it was still not considered as legal entity or local government which was legally separated from provincial government. In 1938, the Provincial Council Act, B.E. 2481 (1938) was enacted for the purpose of separating laws related to Provincial Council. According to the Act, the role of the Provincial Council as the counselor of Province Committee remained unaltered. Until the promulgation of the Government Administration Act, B.E. 2495 (1952), governor was appointed as head of government officers and were directly in charge of the provincial administration, superseding the role of the former Province Committee. By the effect of this Act, the Provincial Council therefore became a counselor for governor. However, the role and performance of the Provincial Council giving advice and controlling operation of province did not achieve its objective, causing the rationale to improve the efficiency of Provincial Council by allowing the participation of the public. As a result, “Provincial Administration Organization” (PAO) was established in regions in 1955. Later, the Revolutionary Council Order No. 218, dated September 29, 1972, the primary law on government administration, stipulated that PAO was a form of local government. Provincial Council then became a unit of local government with increasing power and duties. To understand the role of Provincial Council from the past to the present, its development can be divided into 3 periods as follows;
From 1933 – 1955
Since 1993, Provincial Council was established by virtue of the Municipality Act, B.E. 2476 (1933), which marked the origin and the development foundation of local government in a form of provincial administration up until the year 1955. In summary, the role of Provincial Council was still not regarded as a unit of local government or the legal entity separated from provincial government. The Provincial Council was representative organization for citizens to give advice to Provincial Committee. Under the Thailand Government Administration Act, B.E. 2476 (1933), province was established as provincial government unit responsible for administration under Provincial Committee chaired by governor. The role of The Provincial Council was just a counselor on provincial affairs and Provincial Committee did not necessarily need to entirely follow that suggestion of the Provincial Council.
Until the year 1952, under the Government Administration Act, B.E. 2495 (1952), the role of Provincial Council was changed from counselor of provincial committee to be counselor of governor. According to the Section 25 of the Provincial Council Act B.E 2481 (1938), the powers and duties of Provincial Council were as follows:
1. To examine and report the budget-related affair and to investigate financial issues in accordance with related ministerial regulations
2. To allocate government subsidy to municipalities in province
3. To give advice or suggestion to Provincial Committee in relation to
3.1 Protection of peace, order and morality of the public
3.2 Primary and vocational education
3.3 Disease prevention, treatment and hospital establishment and management
3.4 Land and water transportation arrangement
3.5 Agriculture and transport
3.6 Taxation for revenue of province
3.7 Boundary division of subdistricts, districts and municipalities
From 1955 -1997
According to the establishment and administration of PAO under the Act of Provincial Government Act B.E. 2498 (1995), PAO was set as a legal entity. Moreover, under the Revolutionary Council Order No. 218, PAO was specified as a unit of local government. Therefore, the PAO was a legal local administration with powers and duties including maintaining peace and order of the public; promoting education, religion and culture, preventing and healing decease; and establishing hospitals. The PAO had also the right to cope with necessary external affair related to its authorized activities, under the approval of Municipal Council, Sanitary Committee, Provincial Council or concerned Subdistrict Council, together with the Interior Minister.
Approved by the Parliament and announced in The Royal Government Gazette Issue 114 Part 62 dated 31 October 2008, the Provincial Administrative Organizations Act, B.E. 2540 (1997) was enacted on November 1, 1997. This Act stipulated the administration of PAO as a unit of local government, replacing the provisions of the Act of Provincial Government Act B.E. 2498 (1995). The purpose of this legislation was to adjust powers, duties and structure of PAO, previously responsible for the areas outside Sanitary District and Municipalities, to be in accordance with the enforcement of Tambon Council and Tambon Administrative Authority Act, B.E. 2537 (1994). Together with the minute of the Extraordinary Commission of the House of Representatives considering the draft of this Act on March 13, 1997, the summary of the purpose of the legislation includes
1. To improve the efficiency of administrative system in term of land management and revenue redundancy.
2. To response to the changes of local government in term of local development of each locality
3. To decentralize provincial administration to local government and to transfer missions and budget of provincial government to PAO.
4. To increase power of local government and reduce regulation of central government
According to the Provincial Administrative Organizations Act, B.E. 2540 (1997), PAO is determined as a form of local government. Each province has one PAO, totaling 75 PAOs. The status of PAO is a legal entity with area of responsibility covering the whole province, overlapping with the areas of Municipalities, Sanitary Districts and Subdistrict Administrative Organizations in each province. The status as legal entity facilitates enables PAO to make legal actions; the status of local government authorizes PAO for its power, duties and area of responsibility.