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New law orders one-stop service centers for slashing red tape

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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New law orders one-stop service centers for slashing red tape
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A new law aimed at ensuring faster processing of state permits and other services should go a long way towards reducing bureaucratic red tape in Thailand, many agree.

The State Services Facilitating Act, which was promulgated in the Royal Gazette last month and is to take effect in 180 days, has drawn much support, especially from civil servants. They agree that such a law is needed to help improve the standard of public services.

Others believe the new law will play an important part in curbing corruption in the civil service.

One of the ultimate goals of this act is to provide convenience to Thai citizens, making bureaucratic processes simpler for ordinary people.

Kritsada Boonrat, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), said the department had begun compiling a handbook that would contain precise and detailed information on how to make an official government application. He said he was confident such procedures could be done within 180 days.

DOPA has administrative branches at the provincial and district levels, dealing mainly with registrations and paperwork including changes of nationality, collecting information, and distributing identity cards.

Kritsada said he was ready to cooperate with other ministries or state agencies by taking part in one-stop service centres initiated by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

The deputy PM said the ultimate goal of the new law was to turn time-consuming, complex and confusing processes carried out by ill-mannered officials into convenient service centres for the people.

To accomplish this, state agencies must create one-stop centres where people can make applications and receive service under one roof, without having to wander around to various desks, offices or buildings, Wissanu told a seminar last week.

The one-stop centres would operate inside CentralWorld in Bangkok and 10 other Central shopping malls all over the country, he said.

Manus Chuasawat, chief of the Bangkok Metropolis Land Office (BMLO), said he agreed with the notion of one-stop service because government agencies sometimes require evidence from other state agencies, which meant people had to travel to various places, which could be far apart, before their requests were granted. This cost time and money.

However, he suggested that the one-stop service centres be goal-oriented. “For example, vehicle-registration renewal centres should have car-inspection services, so that people do not have to go to separate places.”

This is because it is impossible to fit all offices from various ministries into a single service centre, Manus said.

He also pointed out his concern that some government offices, particularly those with specific areas of responsibility, would find it hard to take part in a one-stop service centre, nor would it be necessary for them to do so.

“The BMLO holds around 150,000 property title deeds and another 150,000 documents containing land records. Hence it would be physically impossible for all centres to have these important and necessarily documents.”

However, he said although those offices would have difficulty making their branches one-stop service centres, they could still take part, for example by providing initial service or information.

For his part, the BMLO already plans to make a handbook that contains necessary information according to Article 7 of the act and improve the office’s online website.

Pong-ard Treekitvatanakul, deputy secretary-general of the Public Sector Development Commission, said the combination of one-stop service centres and people’s handbooks would greatly improve convenience for citizens.

Asked how the quality of service by public offices could be maintained, he said the commission could closely monitor public offices in and around Bangkok, but those in the provinces should be monitored by local administrations.

He also said the commission would from now on closely monitor certain tasks and responsibilities of the public sector in order to identify areas that can be outsourced to the private sector for higher efficiency and improved service. For example, car inspections for registration renewals could be outsourced to private firms.

Pong-ard said citizens themselves could take responsibility for monitoring government services. They can submit complaints to the responsible ministry, the Public Sector Development Commission or the Prime Minister’s Office.

Apinan Puakpong, veteran chief of Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district, said the act would significantly curb the culture of corruption that has long existed in Thailand’s bureaucracy. He said some agencies deliberately made processes inconvenient in order to be offered money or some other interests in exchange for faster service.

“It is almost a culture, because people have been doing it for so long, people know what to do or how much to give if they go to certain public offices,” he said.

So, he said it was a good idea to have one-stop service centres in each province. However, it would be very beneficial to have them also at district or local level, because they would be physically closer to the people – they could see the actual problems and solve them more quickly than at provincial centres.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Hua Hin

Hua Hin to submit October re-opening plan for government approval

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/Prince Roy

The seaside town of Hua Hin, on the Gulf of Thailand, is working on a proposal to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists from October. Krod Rojanastien, from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, says the Hua Hin Recharge campaign aims to include the resort town in the government’s re-opening plan. He says the area has already earned a reputation for wellness holidays and being a popular seaside destination just a few hours from Bangkok.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the Hua Hin Recharge campaign includes Hua Hin municipality and the district of Nong Kae, an area of around 86 square kilometres, with 182 registered hotels. Adopting similar criteria to the Phuket sandbox model, the campaign is targeting vaccinated foreigners flying into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport or by private jet to Hua Hin airport. All international visitors would be subject to a Covid-19 test on arrival and would need to download the Thailand Plus tracing app prior to being transported to their hotel.

Krod says tourism operators are hoping to offer tour packages, as well as partnering with their counterparts in places like Phuket and Pattaya, to swap visitors once tourists have completed 7 days in Hua Hin. He says if the re-opening is approved, local operators hope to receive around 100,000 foreign visitors, primarily from countries like China, Japan, Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. In total, these numbers should result in 1.2 billion baht in revenue.

However, as with elsewhere, everything hinges on the vaccine rollout.

“In order to achieve re-opening, inoculations in Hua Hin must start by June 1 and continue until September 30 with the number of required doses needed being 353,498.”

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has already given the Hua Hin Recharge campaign the go-ahead, on condition that people in areas such as Pran Buri and Cha-am, in the neighbouring province of Phetchaburi, are also vaccinated. The proposal will now go before a meeting of the National Tourism Policy Committee next week, before finally being submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Chiang Mai

Officials in Chiang Mai and Hua Hin express concern amid rapid rise in infections

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

Health officials in the northern province of Chiang Mai and the western province of Prachuap Khiri Khan are on high alert amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. Prachuap Khiri Khan has now reported 334 cases, with infections rising by 141 yesterday. The outbreak is primarily centred around the Hua Hin district, with provincial health official Suriya Khuharat saying most people contracted the virus after attending a concert at the Maya Exclusive Pub on March 30.

Anyone who is concerned they may be infected can receive a free Covid-19 test at either Prachuap Khiri Khan or Hua Hin hospitals. The Bangkok Post reports that, in the last few days, around 500 people a day have visited Hua Hin Hospital for testing.

Hua Hin district and health officials have filed a police complaint against the owners of the Maya Pub, who are accused of violating the emergency decree and disease prevention measures. The March 30 concert is thought to be behind the surge in infections in the seaside district, with over 90% of cases linked to the pub. The chain of transmission is believed to have originated with 1 customer who attended the concert after travelling from Bangkok. The woman is an employee at the Krystal Club in Thong Lor, itself at the centre of a Covid cluster.

Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, health officials say a surge in infections, now exceeding 200 a day, is causing great concern. Yesterday, the northern province reported 260 new cases, with public health chief Chatuchai Maneerat admitting the surge could lead to a shortage of hospital beds.

“Currently we have 1,000 beds in the province’s field hospital and that may not be sufficient. So, the province’s communicable disease control panel has decided to add another 1,000 beds.”

Despite the rise in infections, the Department of Disease Control says there are currently no plans for a national lockdown, given that other provinces are not as severely affected. Opas Karnkawinpong from the DDC says the most important thing is for people to work from home and avoid social gatherings until at least the end of April.

“People are asking if there will be a lockdown. I’d say that a lockdown is the last resort if virus transmissions show no signs of letting-up. Activities that draw large crowds pose the greatest risk and should be avoided until the end of this month at least.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Hua Hin

Health officials say pubs, nightlife venues the new ground zero for third wave

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: mtgf93 / Flickr

Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Thailand, with 967 new infections reported yesterday, when there were just 26 at the start of the month. Health officials are in no doubt where the surge is coming from, pointing the finger at nightlife venues. A rise in infections in Hua Hin appears to back up the theory first floated after a cluster of infections was linked to Bangkok nightlife.

The Bangkok Post reports that the western province of Prachuap Khiri Khan has recorded 193 cases since the start of the month. 142 of them are in Hua Hin and officials believe they can be traced back to 1 “super-spreader” individual. A 26 year old woman, employed at the Krystal Club in Bangkok, travelled to Hua Hin with her boyfriend on March 30. At the time of her journey, she was showing no sign of infection.

On her first night in Hua Hin, she went to the Maya Exclusive Pub with 7 friends and family members. The next day, she developed a high fever, and the following day, April 1, was informed that her colleagues at the Krystal Club had tested positive for Covid-19. The woman went to a Hua Hin hospital to be tested and was confirmed as infected on April 3.

On April 4, she was admitted to Hua Hin hospital, but by then, the virus was already spreading in Hua Hin. The woman’s boyfriend tested positive, as did 140 people in Hua Hin, and 52 in other districts. The Public Health Ministry says the infections can be traced back to the woman’s attendance at the Maya pub on March 30.

Officials are using this example to illustrate the role pubs and entertainment venues play in this third wave of the virus. They say at least 137 nightlife establishments in at least 15 provinces are behind new surges of infection. Leading virologist Yong Poovorwan from Chulalongkorn University says the development is all the more concerning, given that the original cluster linked to Bangkok nightlife is the B117 variant, which is far more contagious.

Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control accuses partygoers of not cooperating with contact-tracing officials, which makes controlling the spread of infection more difficult.

“Many pubgoers do not give us information until two or three days have passed.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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