May 17, 2022 from 15:00 p.m. to 17:00 p.m. – Khon Kaen University by the Research and Graduate Study Section held an MOU signing ceremony between Khon Kaen University and the World Bank. Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, M.D., President of Khon Kaen University signed for Khon Kaen University, and Dr. Birgit Hansl, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Thailand signed for the World Bank. Among witnesses were Assoc. Prof. Pun Thiangburanatham, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Organization Planning and Strategy, Program Management Unit on Area-Based Development (PMU), Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI); Prof. Monchai Duangchinda, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Graduate Study; and Assoc. Prof. Supawatanakorn Wongthanawasu, Ph.D., Acting Director for Research Fund and Research Program Innovation, Research Project 15. The MOU is aimed at studying the context and potential of the target cities and the foreign information related to funding sources for developing infrastructures and making policy-based recommendations and ideas in different dimensions for investment at a national level towards the upgrading of the quality of life of people. Administrators of the two parties also joined the ceremony, which took place at Sarasin Room, 2nd Floor, Sirikunakorn Building, Khon Kaen University.
Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, M.D., President of Khon Kaen University explained, “Partnership with the World Bank is an important step of the University, as it is the key point for the infrastructure development for cities in Thailand. We are joining with the network of universities including Chiangmai University, Prince of Songkhla University, Burapa University and Thammasat University to build bodies of knowledge and enhance the capacities in investment of local administrative organizations. The aim is to draw and promote collaboration between the governmental sector and the private sector to invest for infrastructures and other various public services in Khon Kaen and the targeted cities involved, including Phuket, Rayong, Chiangmai, and Nakhosawan. The outcomes can be extended to other cities in Thailand in the future,” said KKU President.
Assoc. Prof. Pun Thiangburanatham, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Organization Planning and Strategy, Program Management Unit on Area-Based Development (PMU), Thailand Science Research and Innovation (TSRI) said, “At present, cities are facing limitations in budget and potentialities. These block the chances to develop appropriate infrastructures or build the city as a nice living place. We hope that the collaboration with the World Bank will help solve the problem and upgrade the quality of life of the citizens.”
The collaboration will be a stage for exchanging of knowledge among the World Bank, Thai researchers, the key governmental and private sectors, and the officers from the five cities under the Project to locate funds for developing city infrastructure. The important components are co-researching on the context of each city, comparing with the world practices, and discussing and reflecting the viewpoints of investors and those dealing with international finance, in order to identify the problem, limitations and the answers.
Dr. Birgit Hansl, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Thailand added, “Now there are urban areas emerging outside Bangkok. These areas are still under the first stage of urban development. We hope that this collaboration will provide some alternatives for development of their place. The World Bank offers consultation in terms of technical assistance. The project also receives monetary support from TSRI under the Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS). This is implemented with countries with moderate incomes and high incomes and is in accordance with the request of the country. The assistance may be in the form of studies, research and support for project implementation. The World Bank has been cooperating with Thailand for over 70 years. At the beginning, we assisted in the form of direct budget for the country development, especially the infrastructure like roads, dams, irrigation system, electricity generation, railway system, and ports. These helped provoking economy and trades in Thailand. At present, Thailand has become a middle-income country with continuous developmental dynamics. The benefits from such collaboration with the World Bank are not only in terms of money, but also cover consultation, studies, and research.”
Assoc. Prof. Supawatanakorn Wongthanawasu, Ph.D., Acting Director for Research Fund and Research Program Innovation explained, “We all know that the past development of Thailand emphasized Bangkok as the center. Allocation of resources and economic growth had gaps and caused risks for the future development at that time. Therefore, the policy of the government for regional development now begins to emphasize balanced growth that covers everywhere.”
“Urban development is an important strategy for the context of Thailand. Decentralization of opportunities to localities and regions will provide chances for people to participate more concretely in their own region. It is also challenging to have cooperation of the state, the people and the private sector for arranging activities. The Research Project 15 for Nice City and decentralizing growth has undergone the new mechanism of urban propulsion, with emphasis on the changes in 4 things: City Solution, Data & Knowledge, Social Mechanism, and Investment Scheme. What has been done can be considered changes in policy principally.”
Therefore, in order to unlock the limitations in investment in the area and to answer the policy of the Ministry that aims at having universities and research institutes in the locality become close to the locals and act as the power behind the developmental work. The Project 15 has therefore supported 15 million baht to Khon Kaen University and the network to work with the World Bank under the Research Project: “Assessment of Funding Sources for Infrastructure and Urban Development”. This is the rationale behind the MOU between KKU with the network and the World Bank.
News / Photos: Jiraporn Prathomchai