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Phuket Opinion: A storm is brewing

PHUKET: The relief and financial support measures for employees and businesses suffering from lockdown measures in the ‘dark red’ COVID high risk areas have already been announced in a move that snubs the rest of the country.

opinionCOVID-19economicstourismpolitics
By The Phuket News

Sunday 25 July 2021, 09:00AM


People in Karon queue for food parcels provided by the PPAO earlier this month. Photo: Kata-Karon Municipality

People in Karon queue for food parcels provided by the PPAO earlier this month. Photo: Kata-Karon Municipality

The national Social Security Office on Wednesday (July 21) announced a slew of income relief measures for those in dark red zones suffering financial distress. The support ranges from B2,500, to B5,000 for some, and B7,500 to B10,000 for others, depending on their circumstances. To see the full range of financial and income relief measures being offered (in Thai), click here.

Of course all help should go to those in need and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control, but these latest measures announced by the SSO came just nine days after the “not a lockdown” measures were brought into effect.

In contrast, Phuket’s entire entertainment industry, including simple pubs and bars, have been shut down since April, with not one iota of special support for them despite being singled out to be effectively placed in a red zone all their own. The only support for those businesses, and their now out-of-workers, in Phuket have been the relief measures offered to any businesses and workers in the country suffering due to the “economic situation”, which is now recognised by even state news agencies as an economic crisis

As any business owner and staffer in Phuket already knows, and long recognised by Phuket’s own leading tourism industry figures, the reality of being approved the soft loans and relief measures has been a lot more difficult than any government officials has wanted to publicly admit – and people in Phuket’s entertainment industry are not the only ones suffering, as confirmed by the ongoing efforts by the much needed One Phuket food relief campaign and the relief efforts organised by Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor). The latter is well noted as it was launched under a push by Rewat Areerob, who was elected to the position of PPAO President, not by any officials appointed by Bangkok now serving at the Phuket Provincial Office.

It’s not as if the national government doesn’t know how deep the financial crisis is hurting people. According to the Bank of Thailand itself, Thailand’s household debt in the first quarter of this year increased to B14.1 trillion, or 90.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). Yet the powers that be have extended the Ying Chai Ying Dai (the more you spend, the more you get) scheme, aimed at spurring public spending, from the end of September to the end of November. That only works for those who still have money to spend.

MACNELS SHIPPING PHUKET

As for the Phuket Sandbox scheme, no one expected hordes of tourists to come and the ongoing spate of infections elsewhere has not helped. Even Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), before the Sandbox launch on July 1 admitted that number of arrivals would be low.

The goal was use Phuket just as a test. There was no secret in that. But even the TAT’s much touted 18,000 arrivals in the first month has taken an almighty hit. As of yesterday the TAT itself reported that as of Friday (July 23) 10,209 people had arrived in Phuket under the scheme since its launch. They now have seven days to make up the other 43% of their own target.

With their own figures proving how little help the Sandbox scheme is providing, officials are keeping the spotlight sharply on the Sandbox figures and ignoring the continuing dire state of the island’s economy as if hope will put food on the table. By national officials’ own admission, before the Sandbox scheme was launched Phuket was suffering deep financial distress, and today they are still reporting in figures that the fruits of the Sandbox scheme have yet to be realised. Meanwhile, there appears to be an understanding among officials that local people will not notice this odd duality, as if they don’t mention it, the problem won’t exist.

Yet, following the speed of relief now coming for those living in or around the capital, it’s amazing how fast the central government rolls out financial relief measures when the people suffering are right on their doorstep. Perhaps the powers that be don’t like looking at bare-faced reality on their drive to work. For many people in Phuket, after 18 months, it’s just another day.

There are growing rumblings of dissatisfaction in Phuket with the central government’s antics throughout the crisis that are brewing into something the national figures might want to avoid. Phuket traditionally has not been an overly political province, unlike some provinces in the Northeast. Phuket people rarely take to the streets to voice their grievances, but that time may be coming.

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Kurt | 26 July 2021 - 09:55:12

@agogohome, Not the island, but a group in Thai society is on her knees. There is also a rich group Thai here + a large group of inhabitants working in Government ( having a paid holiday now). They travel around. The gap between the have's and no-have's is enormous on Phuket.

agogohome | 26 July 2021 - 08:25:09

On an island that's supposed to be on its knees, there sure are a lot of motorists creating mayhem at the Heroines Monument every day! Where are they all going in their flashy SUV's, trucks and sports cars - and WHY? 

Dave_C | 26 July 2021 - 07:59:49

DEAR PRAYUT
You have destroyed Phuket.
Now is the time to prove that the military cares about the Island .

Kurt | 26 July 2021 - 02:50:40

 I learned never trust Thai Officials on their word, only judge them on their acts. And we know, after 'words' mostly their doings stop. Just justified by finger pointing to other departments, hiding their own incompetence or the fact that they were not even the right official to be in charge. They are just good in flip flop designing nonsense orders, not even taken serious by own staff.

Foot | 25 July 2021 - 14:48:39

Easy to ignore some basic truths.
1: When tin mining went away, did government bail everyone out? No. Big Phuket tourism is the new "tin mining." 2. Most governments care only about continuing in government. Everything they say is based on that whether true or not. TAT is a classic example. No is future for Phuket tourism for many years.

CaptainJack69 | 25 July 2021 - 13:17:27

Phuket has received no government help at all. Lots of talk. SS benefits, soft loans, tax breaks, electricity bill reductions, etc. etc. In reality these things have been vapid. Banks stopped loaning money at all. Still household debt skyrocketed. We have suffered more as our economy is just tourism but now Bangkok gets real help and quickly. Yeah, it looks bad.

Dave_C | 25 July 2021 - 11:28:02

The Great Phuket Betrayal -
That should be the title of this opinion piece. 
Phuket was not ready for the Sandbox scheme. The vaccination program was nowhere near the stated target of 70% fully vaccinated (still below 50%) and the Bridge entry was not secure.
Now Delta is taking hold!
There was no chance for the local economy to succeed. 
The trading restrictions need to be removed immediatel

Xi_Virus | 25 July 2021 - 10:59:41

Majority of these ppl are NOT from Pkt. They were dragged here by the incompetent govt.

The GANGster_ixters killed the agriculture all over the country, from Rice to Rubber. Farmers had no other choice than move to bigger cities. 

Just look at all those WASTE collectors. Talk to any of them and you'll find they were farmers but could not survive on the farming due to low prices. 

Paddy | 25 July 2021 - 09:41:16

Remember that article here 2 months ago about the PPAO offering loans to tourism business to help reopen . All a lie , we applied and never even heard back from them . Sort of like how Mr. Happy was going to help with the electric bills , all talk

 

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