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Phuket Commerce president calls for urgent action to provide jobs, income for the hungry

Phuket Commerce president calls for urgent action to provide jobs, income for the hungry

PHUKET: Phuket Chamber of Commerce President has appealed to the government in Bangkok to take urgent steps to counter the impact of unemployment on the island due to the COVID-19 outbreak and revitalize the island’s economy to become self-sufficient again.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 9 May 2020, 03:40PM

“The COVID-19 situation has caused a crisis in Phuket. It’s as difficult as the tsunami [in 2004] because Phuket has no income right now,” Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Thanusak Phungdet told a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Thursday (May 7).

Mr Thanusak said he did not expect the tourism sector to experience any form of recovery for at least six months. Even by then tourism-dependent business on the island would see only 20-30% of the income they previously enjoyed, he added.

“Right now, we don’t know how much the private sector will be able to receive government remedies and we don’t know how well they can take care of their employees – and the most important thing right now is how to get them to have a job,” Mr Thanusak said.

As revealed by Patong hotel and restaurant businessman Preechavude “Prab” Keesin on Tuesday, Mr Thanusak also called for the government to urgently survey how many people have been left out of work due to the COVID-19 situation.

“I want the government to conduct a survey of how many people are unemployed at village level, subdistrict level, district level and provincial level. Then the private sector can start finding a way to offer these people work for the jobs they can do,” he said.

With Phuket fully dependent on tourism, the island was likely to be suffering more than any other place in the country, Mr Thanusak said.

“I think there are unemployed people all over Thailand, but the number of unemployed in Phuket [per capita] is probably the highest,” he added.

“Therefore, we must ask that local administration organisation, in accordance with the announcement of the Prime Minister’s Office to issue measures to counter the effects of COVD-19, start collecting unemployment information quickly and open discussions on how help can be provided,” Mr Thanusak said.

“More importantly, if people have work, they will be stronger [and less dependent on others] during the problems at this time. It would be better than relying on donations and ‘survival bags’ for food,” he said plainly.

Mr Thanusak also called for the government to look to the future and cautiously work towards re-opening the island to tourism.

QSI International School Phuket

“We need to accelerate efforts to promote tourism, first by making sure that we deal with the problem of COVID-19 appropriately. This will build confidence among Thai tourists while making sure that Phuket people are not infected [by visitors] and people coming here do not become patients,” he added.

“Further, we must be prepared for the arrival of foreign tourists, and foreign investors looking to invest in Phuket, which may occur after June,” he said.

“If Phuket builds confidence and security, including by the sharing of information by both the government sector and the private sector, it is expected that Phuket will have income from Thai people during this period, and foreign tourists in the region will gradually return, which will help see a recovery of income of at least 20-30% this year – that is feasible,” he said. 

While speaking at Phuket Provincial Hall, Mr Thanusak also took the opportunity to highlight how the COVID-19 situation had shown that Phuket needed to become a special economic zone.

“These circumstances demand a special response, and most of the private sector agrees that Phuket should become a special economic zone,” he said.

The move would allow Phuket to broaden its income base, and not rely solely on tourism, Mr Thanusak said.

“Phuket should not have income from only tourism. Phuket has the opportunity to make money from various locations, or as a ‘stopover’ or a place where world-class private workers like Singapore, Hong Kong can join,” he said.

“Phuket must have a plan for development, and must consider in which direction Phuket will go. When Phuket has everything ready and can compete, our region in the upper Andaman Sea will be stronger,” Mr Thanusak said.

“But we must start discussions to proactively find solutions. Right now, the problem is about people going hungry, but after that there must be a concept that moves Phuket in a different direction for the better.

“Then Phuket can enter a phase of sustainable development and grow to be a world-class city and continue to generate income for Thailand,” Mr Thanusak concluded.

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Jor12 | 11 May 2020 - 12:35:18

R2... why does explaining basic facts to the uneducated, devolve to PH commentators? Read it yourself, because the subject is vast.  Start with Thailand does not have "vast natural resources."

Christy Sweet | 11 May 2020 - 11:12:27

Thailand has vast natural resources and enough coastline to rival a small continent and was a global leader in tourism. Where's all the money gone to? 

Rorri_2 | 11 May 2020 - 10:19:12

HubertK, aka Dek, Joe12 and who knows who else, "do you actually know about the tax system in Thailand and how the Government in Bangkok distributes the tax revenue among the provinces " you you know, if not, why post.. enlighten us.

GerryT81 | 10 May 2020 - 22:07:39

I suggest a one- time solidarity surcharge about 10.000 baht from every foreigner when a retirement visa is issued or reissued.Not to much for privileged retirees who would like to enjoy the rest of their life here.

HubertK | 10 May 2020 - 18:48:27

Mr.Kurt,as you are speaking about 'overflowing money coffers",do you actually know about the tax system in Thailand and how the Government in Bangkok distributes the tax revenue among the provinces ? Obviously you don't .

ThorFinger | 10 May 2020 - 18:11:49

Can we please provide driving lessons to all inhabitants, Thai and Farang alike. Sometimes I will go several days without seeing ONE person who knows and follows road rules. Phuket is a heavily populated island with busy centres, not an isolated village. 

ChelseaPete | 10 May 2020 - 17:51:02

A great time to smarten the place up. Bury the scruffy, dangerous cables whilst the roads are quiet, build some decent toilet facilities on the beaches and give the whole place a coat of paint. This will provide much needed work for the people.

Christy Sweet | 10 May 2020 - 13:03:30

June?  2021 maybe, next month? C'mon, this is going to sweep through again.  EU/UK/US behavior is too risky and China will not allow travel is my prediction for  remainder of 2020.

mirthpro | 09 May 2020 - 19:58:26

What ever happened to the 5000 baht the government promised the Thai people? The government is responsible for taking away their livelihoods. Compensation is in order.  

maverick | 09 May 2020 - 19:28:57

The wider issue is the impact that the lack of remittances to extended family that Phuket workers send home this will have a devastating impact In the months ahead if Phuket’s economy is not able to restart before 2021. Its interesting that the Thai authorities and not acknowledging this in the same way Philippine government is recognizing the economic impact of the lack of diaspora remittances

Kurt | 09 May 2020 - 18:15:28

To all the rich and influential thai people on Phuket: Jobs needed for projects: 1, laying water pipeline from Phang Nga to Phuket. 2: beach cleaners/ social distance stewards at beaches. 3 Cleaning up Phuket, from all illegal dumbs of debris and anything every where. Phuket dirt now smiles to you from every corner. Sure there are more projects to think about to provide jobs.

Kurt | 09 May 2020 - 18:02:33

And, to read that on  Phuket, as the richest province of Thailand with her overflowing money coffers, are people hungry, is a shame. Does the Governor not has to attend this more urgently than playing his many ceremonial doings? That eems to be a self satisfactory hobby, but not feed his inhabitants.

Kurt | 09 May 2020 - 17:56:09

Is 'Phuket' by now realising that it can not any longer just remaining on Tourism only? Start brainstorming about having environmental clean non tourism related industries.  Phuket now experience what it means to put all your eggs in 1 basket.


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