Deputy PM checks on stalled relief funds

PHUKET: Six months after the tsunami, local people in the stricken areas are still asking the same question; “When will we receive our compensation?”

The man given the job of answering that question, Deputy Prime Minister Vissanu Kreangam, appointed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as chairman of the Tsunami Victim Administration, came to the region on June 18 for a one-day tour of inspection and to hear local grievances.

Speaking at the Disaster Victim Identification Center near Chalong he said, “Local people are still complaining to members of parliament and to the Prime Minister that they are not getting any help from the government.

“But when we check with government officers they say they are doing their jobs correctly. So we [have to] check again.”

The Deputy PM explained that there seems to be a difference of opinion between local officials and the general public in regards to the tsunami funding.

“When I was in Phang Nga, Prime Minister Thaksin phoned me and told me to be tenacious in the matter of tsunami donation money. We’ve heard so much about this money and yet it’s not being used.

“I have asked many government officers involved and they say they have received no requests for money. We will have to bring this matter before the Cabinet very soon,” he said.

“The donation money should not be spent on basic infrastructure such as roads or schools. The money is meant for victims,” he added.

“We have to restore and give back to the locals what was taken away from them as soon as possible. We also have to renovate the tourism areas. For the next high season we should be ready with full accommodation [and] facilities,” he added.

As for compensation paid to the families of those missing after the wave, K. Vissanu was unequivocal. “We will push to change the laws regarding missing persons and their families. At present things take far too long. The missing victims’ relatives should be able to go ahead with compensation claims.”

Phuket News

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