PHUKET CITY: Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has said he does not care where the controversial 2.5-billion-baht International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) is built, so long as it benefits Phuket.
“We have wasted a lot of time on this already. The ICEC can be built anywhere that will create growth in Phuket. We won’t argue over it anymore,” he said.
Previously, Gov Udomsak had backed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s preference for the center to be built at Saphan Hin, as part of the proposed Ao Phuket Development Plan.
However, there has been considerable local opposition, with residents arguing that Phuket City does not have the infrastructure to cope with a deluge of delegates and the traffic they would generate.
Opponents have suggested the north of the island, closer to the airport, as a more appropriate location.
Speaking yesterday, Gov Udomsak said, “Building the ICEC at Ao Phuket may cause traffic jams but we could solve it. If we can reclaim land from the sea to create Ao Phuket, we can also can reclaim it to build a road to the ICEC.”
The budget for the scheme has already been presented to Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Lipatapanlop, for discussion later, he added. However, the governor conceded that it may take some time to get the money needed for the project, and he implied that the private sector could contribute.
The Governor also spoke a little of his hopes for the proposed Duty Free Zone, which, he said, should aim to persuade people who usually got to Hong Kong or Singapore to shop to come to Phuket instead.
He also gave his backing to an attempt to persuade the national government to exempt entertainment businesses in the proposed duty-free zone from the current 2 am closing time.
He said, “We can reduce taxes but if we want to attract more people to come, we should also expand the closing time for entertainment places in the duty-free zone.”
Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.
Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.
Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.