Phuket residents going hungry after local government assistance runs out

Residents in Phuket, particularly those living in and around the west coast townships, are reportedly going hungry as the government’s municipal budget to provide food has been depleted. Despite efforts to revive tourism in the area, thousands of people are still in need of donated food to survive and continue to queue up for donated food every day. A public relations staff member at the Patong municipality says, sadly, there is no budget to do any more food handouts in the near future and that there is no word on when or if there will be any more handouts.

The Phuket Town Deputy Mayor told The Phuket News that there has only been 2 handouts since the pandemic struck the tourist-reliant area. One handout was in March while the last handout was in June with the mayor saying 28 million baht was spent in those 2 handouts. Meanwhile a number of foreign residents in the town have been providing supplies for food queues for many months to help the impoverished residents.

One Phuket expat says the majority of those affected in the Patong area are Burmese migrant workers, with long queues for private donations still being seen on the streets of Patong. Such private donations are a result of charity events that are being held across the island with the assistance of dedicated volunteers.

Like Thailand’s Mental Health Department, many are concerned about the impact that food insecurity is having on those struggling. According to the department, 2,551 people had killed themselves across Thailand in the first half of 2020, a 22 % increase, year on year. In response, the National Reform Committee on Labour was ordered on September 11 to issue an amnesty on all outstanding debts, while providing financial support anyone who remains unemployed on the island.

At a recent meeting, other requests were made that include the government giving incentives for more Thais to visit the island and to use social security funds and soft loans as support for local business owners. For now, the situation is grim as Phuket residents are resorting to relying on private charities for food donations.

Phuket’s vice governor Phichet saysd that Phuket has been badly affected by the Covid crises, and delivered 3 requests to the Senate Standing Committee on Tourism… to extend the financial support by the Social Security Office for a further 3 months, allow workers from other provinces to transfer their house registration to Phuket so the Phuket government can receive more funds to provide better care for them, and ask the Ministry of Labour to provide assistance to at least 1,000 unemployed in Phuket.

Whilst the government unveiled plans for a “Phuket Model” to revive tourism on the island, it came to nothing, despite a high power delegation of Ministers and Bangkok officials who visited Phuket 2 weekends ago.

One such charity is set to record a song by leading Phuket musicians with the hopes of continuing to help feed those in need on the island.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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