Phuket governor endorses special administrative status transition

Photo courtesy of Phuket News

Phuket Governor Sophon Suwannarat openly endorsed the move for Phuket to acquire special administrative status. Governor Sophon conveyed his support during a speech at the 2024 Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC) Annual General Meeting, held at the Phuket Merlin Hotel.

Sophon’s vision for the province’s future governance entails transitioning to a special administrative status, akin to those currently in place in Pattaya and Bangkok. The proposal marks a significant shift in Phuket’s political landscape, with Sophon being an official appointed by Bangkok.

The governor lauded the PCC as a central player in promoting cooperation between the private sector and government bodies. He accentuated the chamber’s crucial role in propelling economic and societal growth in the province and recognised its effective solutions to various challenges.

Sophon underscored the urgent need for Phuket to gain enhanced fiscal autonomy. He stated that the province’s growth potential is currently hindered due to a restricted budget. By comparing it to the administrative frameworks of Pattaya and Bangkok, he suggested a modified model where Phuket could gain more authority over taxation and budget distribution.

In this proposed framework, Sophon recommended the establishment of an elected provincial governor, responsible for strategic management. He further suggested a revamped system for budget allocation, where part of the provincial GDP and tax revenues would be locally reinvested, stimulating competition among provinces to boost economic growth.

Sophon also unveiled substantial infrastructure projects aimed at addressing Phuket’s immediate challenges. These include the creation of four more traffic routes, as evaluated by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, along with initiatives to broaden traffic lanes and enhance water infrastructure. This includes sourcing water from the Cheow Lan Lake in Surat Thani to address chronic water shortages.

PM takes action

After his Phuket visit, the 62 year old Thai prime minister declared that the province would be supplied water from Cheow Lan Lake in Surat Thani. The Bangkok-born PM pointed out the government’s intention to spend around 16 billion baht on Phuket’s development projects, which include resolving recurring threats of water shortages by piping water from Cheow Lan.

“Relevant agencies have been given directions to bring water from Cheow Lan Reservoir to be used in Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket. In the future, Phuket residents will not lack water to use.”

The Thai premier also emphasised stringent law enforcement regarding wastewater and garbage management to prevent waste from being released into the sea and public water sources.

The proposal for Phuket to transition to a special administrative status signifies a drastic change in the province’s governance structure, with potential implications for its economic growth and development trajectory, reported Phuket News.

During PM Srettha’s visit to Phuket, Wirintra Paphakityotphat, head of the Tourism Council of Thailand Region 11 branch, representing Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, presented a list of four formal requests to the prime minister, the first of which is to permit Phuket become a Special Administrative Zone.

Phuket NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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