On 28th March 2012, the first Development Conversation Series was held at Chulalongkorn University. Under the theme “Enhancing Accountability in the Midst of Decentralization”, experts gathered to critically examine the significance of accountability in the context of decentralized governance.
Our notable speakers included Dr. Chusak Wittayapak, a decentralization expert from Chiang Mai University, Dr. Charas Suwanmala, a fiscal specialist and a former Dean of Chulalongkorn’s Faculty of Political Science, Dr. Kaiser Bengali, a distinguished economist from Pakistan, and Mr. Robert Booth, a public sector specialist from the World Bank.
The Forum was attended by the selected group of experts from the academia, the international organizations and the civil society organizations. The discussions were focused and in-depth, covering a range of topics such as fundamental threats to good governance (corruption, clientelism, and elite capture), key elements of accountability, to the risks of decentralized governance.
Dr. Kaiser Bengali
Kaiser Bengali was till recently the Advisor to the Chief Minister of Sindh for Planning & Development and has led the process for the development of the first outline 3-Year Development Plan for Sindh. He was the first head of the Benazir Income Support Programme and designed the programme. He was also Sindh’s representative on the 7th National Finance Commission, which gave a successful Award. He has now been nominated on the 8th NFC as well.
Kaiser Bengali is an economist with 30 years experience in teaching, research and policy advice in Pakistan and abroad. He has a Masters in Economics from Boston University, USA, and a PhD in Economics from University of Karachi, Pakistan. He has taught and conducted research at prestigious institutions in Pakistan, such as, the Applied Economics Research Centre, University of Karachi, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology, and was Managing Director of the Social Policy & Development Centre, Karachi.
His international teaching, research and consultancy experience includes work at the Institut Universitaire d’Etudes du Developpement, University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, and with international organizations in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Kenya.
He has over 30 research publications in national and international journals and conferences and he is the author/editor of 5 books on subjects ranging from unemployment, inequality and poverty to education and water. He has regularly contributed articles on economic and political issues in newspapers and appears on electronic media. He is a member of a number of academic and corporate boards.
Prof. Charas Suwanmala
Charas Suwanmala is a Professor and former dean at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He received the Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, U.S.A. (1991), M.Econ. from Chulalongkorn University (1985), M.P.A. from the National Institute of Development administration; NIDA (1983), and B.A. Pol.Sci. from Chulalongkorn University (1977).
Professor Suwanmala has been deeply involved in Thailand decentralization process for more than two decades. Also, he joined with the World Bank, ADB, UNDP, and various international agencies in a number of research and consulting projects in the area of budgeting and financial reform, intergovernmental fiscal relations, local government and decentralization, and social welfare.
Professor Suwanmala was the founder of the College of Local Government at King Prajadhipok Institute (2001), and the Institute of Local Governance and Initiatives at Chulalongkorn University (2004). Lately, in 2009, he started up a knowledge and learning network for democratization in Thailand, the so called “Thailand Democracy Watch (TDW).
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chusak Wittayapak
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chusak Wittayapak is assistant professor of geography at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He earned his PhD in geography from University Of Victoria, Canada. An expert in governance and resource management issues in Asia, he co-authored The politics of decentralization: natural resource management in Asia, the book which brings together empirically grounded studies of the decentralization of natural resource management in seven South and Southeast Asian countries. It also provides a clear explanation of the key concept and debates in decentralization relevant to the management of forests, fisheries, and water in the Region.
Mr. Robert Boothe
Mr. Robert Boothe is an Economist at the World Bank, currently based in the Bangkok office. He is a member of the Public Sector team and focuses on a range of different public sector programs including central-local relations, strengthening local accountability, improving access to information, public financial management, and public investment management. Prior to Thailand, Rob worked with the World Bank Institute in Washington, DC on a range of public sector governance issues.