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Phuket Opinion: It’s a no-brainer

PHUKET: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cabinet have struck gold with not one, but two no-brainers this past week with their declaration of the slew of projects to support tourism development throughout the Andaman provinces, including Phuket.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 21 November 2021, 09:30AM

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha poses with two children at the mobile Cabinet meeting in Krabi on Tuesday (Nov 16). Photo: PR Dept

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha poses with two children at the mobile Cabinet meeting in Krabi on Tuesday (Nov 16). Photo: PR Dept

The esteemed leaders on Tuesday (Nov 16) “approving” Phuket to bid to host a health and wellness World Specialized Expo in 2028 on behalf of the Andaman region comes across as very gracious, yet the government will hardly have to lift a finger to see the bid put through. All the heavy lifting will be done by the key tourism and industry leaders on the island.

All the government needs to do in support is to, first, make sure the country remains open in the run-up to and during the event period, and second, make sure the lights are on and the internet is working. Other than giving the roads another very expensive lick of asphalt, government agencies will have nothing else to do but follow the private sector’s strong suggestions and stand in front of cameras to look good. That last part must nearly be natural by now.

“The government will gain revenue from tax collection of B9.512bn during the event,” as explained by Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, pretty much sums up the total effort required from the government. Of course other forms of personal revenue will be realised if the bid comes to fruition.

As for the ‘Phuket Health Sandbox’ project being gifted B85 million, the mainstay of the project is to link all the health databases of public hospitals throughout the Andaman. It’s not new. It’s called a national health database. For any government that in 2021 boasts they are about to develop one, it isn’t a victory. For any country that doesn’t have one by now, it is a failure.

For Thailand, it will come in very handy for hospital medical workers and emergency first responders to know whether the person they just scraped off the road is allergic to, say, penicillin, or any other vital medication. That’s how far behind this project is. If there are any examples of people being expected to be grateful for their leaders embracing the inevitable, then this is clearly one. We pity our Governor for having to ask. The B85mn to be spent on the project is a pittance. More than that is wasted on most large-scale government projects.

Exotic Fishing Thailand

As for the B494mn promised for local projects, not one project on the list provided after the mobile Cabinet meeting in Krabi screamed of actual development. Every one of the projects named is nothing more than local government being allowed to do their jobs.

Of note, the budget approved for the slew of projects actually approved is not even half of the B1 billion to be dedicated to “Construction supervision consultant fees” budgeted for the Phuket Light Rail project, as mentioned in Phuket Opinion last week. That is how great the disparity is between the highly touted “tourism development projects” and just one project sitting on another desk.

The rest of the B9 billion touted for other projects are for projects approved only “in principle”. There is no commitment there. Only when such projects are approved will the actual budget amount be announced. Check the list again, and Phuket readers will see that many of the porjects named have been plans in motion for years already.

If the Bangkok crew were expecting any form of constructive feedback from their tour of one of the economically hardest-hit areas in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the message must simply be: “Must try harder.”

It’s not as if Phuket people are just going to forget that in the roll-out of the government’s great assistance schemes throughout the pandemic, Phuket was never declared a ‘Red’ province, meaning that none of the people or business operators were eligible for most the assistance schemes being promoted as “helping the people”. It is not odd that point was never mentioned in the Cabinet meeting debriefing.

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Fascinated | 21 November 2021 - 13:09:47

Politician spins projects to boost his ego- who'd a thunk it!

CaptainJack69 | 21 November 2021 - 11:17:59

The problem with these events is just that, they're events, one-offs. Besides painting the roads, once this expo is over life goes back to normal with no lasting benefits for local business. Politicians get to look pretty and line their pockets and sure it's good PR for Phuket but that's it.


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