PHUKET: Nearly five months after the tsunami, some 968 small business owners in Phuket are still awaiting 20,000 baht in financial aid packages from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to re-start their businesses.
A group comprising mostly small-scale vendors and beach massage business operators contacted the Phuket Office of the MoI’s Department of Local Administration (DOLA) recently to see why their aid applications, filed at local Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) offices in March, had not yet been paid.
Jongjareon Yangyuen, Chief Administrative Officer of the Law Section at DOLA’s Phuket office, told the Gazette yesterday that DOLA had already paid out 20,000 baht each in compensation to some 2,571 businesses – a total of more than 51 million baht.
All of the 968 applicants awaiting aid applied on March 1 or later, and more continue to apply, he said.
The office recently received some 43 more aid applications from OrBorTor offices around the island, he added.
The Gazette was earlier told by an official at the DOLA office that small businesses suffering tsunami damage needed to apply for the by the end of February.
K. Jongjaroen did not confirm whether or not such a deadline existed, but told the Gazette that all those who applied had their applications forwarded for consideration to the DOLA headquarters in Bangkok.
When the Gazette contacted the DOLA headquarters, however, an official there said, under condition of anonimity, that there was in fact no application deadline.
The reason for the delay, the source said, was that officials from the Prime Minister’s Office had not yet been able to travel to the province to inspect the applicants to ensure their claims were legitimate and that they had not already received aid under the program under another name.
Until the inspections are made, DOLA cannot release the funds, the source said.
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