B5.25bn set aside to revive tourism

BANGKOK (The Nation): The Cabinet yesterday approved a 5.25-billion-baht budget to carrying out projects to revive tourism in the six Andaman-coast provinces hit by tsunami, after cutting the down the proposed figures by 4.11 billion baht.

Government Spokesman Jakrapob Penkair said the Cabinet approved a budget of 2.651 billion baht from the normal budget for the 2005 fiscal year for projects to revive tourism in the six provinces, compared with the original 5.849 billion baht requested by various government agencies.

The Cabinet also approved 1.4 billion baht from the central fund of the 2005 fiscal year for the same purpose, compared with the proposed budget of 2.319 billion baht.

K. Jakrapob said the Cabinet also approved a further 1.2 billion baht from the normal budget of the 2006 fiscal year for projects to revive tourism.

Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula announced yesterday that the government had so far paid out 283.7 million baht for compensation to people affected by the tsunami, and that a total of 58,550 people from 12,480 families in 412 villages of the six provinces had been affected.

In another development, representatives of six countries yesterday signed an agreement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish a center to issue tsunami and other disaster warnings.

The agreement, called the Charter of Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, was signed Dr Suwit Yodmanee, who will be the director of the center, as well as representatives from Cambodia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Dr Suwit said that the implementation plan to set up the necessary technologies to issue the warnings had been drafted, and that it would cost about US$50 million (about 2 billion baht) to set up.

However, he added that the system had yet to be endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation – Unesco.

Dr Suwit said he would inform a meeting of the International Oceanography Council (IOC) in Paris about Thailand’s readiness to host the warning center. The IOC meeting will run from tomorrow until March 8.

Phuket News

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