Mr Rewat made the announcement at the Phuket Merlin Hotel in Phuket Town yesterday (Dec 28), where he held his first press conference since being named the unofficial winner of the PPAO presidential election.
“Thank you for trusting our party [the Phuket Yatdai Party, or “Phuket Trustworthy Party” in English] with 83,144 votes. We will work effectively following our policies,” he said, with his team of assistants by his side.
Ensuring Phuket remained safe from the current spate of infections linked to the outbreak in Samut Sakhon remained his top priority, Mr Rewat noted.
“We will set up a project to make Phuket a COVID-19 free area and will make sure that healthcare workers are vaccinated first,” he said.
“We will urgently investigate the cause of the virus spreading, and right now the only way to prevent any infection is to wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and avoid crowds. We will step up with measures to check for foreign workers who entered the island illegally.” he added.
However, Mr Rewat stressed that providing assistance to people left unemployed and with no income due to the COVID-19 situation remained among his top priorities.
He estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 people on the island were greatly affected by the current economic situation.
Mr Rewat said that centres will be set up in each district in order to find ways to help people who are suffering deep financial distress.
“We will set up a project to source supplies of daily necessities and distribute it to people in Phuket at cheap prices,” he said.
People in need of assistance will be able to register to receive help, he said.
“The project will be set up with centres in all three districts to prevent congestion, and we will coordinate with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and other relevant organisations,” he added.
Residents in Muang District will be able to register at a centre that will be set up at Saphan Hin, while Kathu District residents will be able to register at Kathu Wittaya School, and residents of Thalang will be able to register at Muang Thalang School, Mr Rewat said.
“After that, we’ll look at which laws allow the PPAO to provide assistance to people with insufficient income. We will be able to help and take care of at least some of the people who have been unable to qualify to receive assistance from the central government.
“If the three ministries [named above] are still unable to help these people, we will contact various associations In Thailand for financial support, this goes for local businesses as well,” he added.
“We will recover the economy by stimulating tourism, adding more tourist attractions and inviting more tourists and investors to Phuket,” Mr Rewat promised.
Mr Rawat said that he was “very sad” about the second wave of COVID-19 now affecting the country. “But I consider it an accident,” he said.
He also expressed his concern over the PPAO’s ability to provide assistance to residents and businesses in need of help.
“I think that the ability of the PPAO to raise funds at this time is worrisome, because we cannot collect any taxes from hotels. The same applies for many other local taxes,” he said.
“I think this will affect the province’s development budget. I have to use my abilities to contact the central government. For example, the Ministry of the Interior must allocate the central budget to drive the economy as much as possible.
“We must also check whether there is any other budget that can help, and how we can invite foreign investors to invest in Phuket and increase tourist attractions in order to accelerate the economic recovery of the province,” Mr Rewat noted.
Mr Rewat also explained that although he has yet to be installed as PPAO President, he began working as if he were already in office since the day after the election.
“I started my work as a Phuket citizen on December 21, and I have already coordinated with the Ministry of Public Health about having local fresh markets and schools in Phuket sanitised with disinfectant,” he said.
“Our party will work with integrity and honesty and will not disappoint the people for sure,” he added.
“At this time, those who will be serving as councilors and as the PPAO Secretary has yet to be confirmed as the Election Commission of Thailand has yet to fully confirm the election results,” Mr Rewat explained.
Mr Rewat concluded the press conference with a message of blessing to the people of Phuket for the New Year to encourage them to overcome the COVID crisis together.