PHUKET TOWN: The provincial government has announced that work on a 1.4-million-baht packaging factory for goods produced under the “One Tambon One Product” (OTOP) scheme is almost complete. The facility, located in an existing building that has been extensively renovated, occupies a 150-square-wah site next to Kathu District Offices. Suthep Wuthisak, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Development Office, told the Gazette, “Operations will begin on a trial basis next month, but the official opening won’t be until next April.” He added that 217 million baht in OTOP merchandise was produced in Phuket in fiscal 2003, which ended September 30. This represents a 36% increase over the 160million baht figure for 2002. The OTOP scheme, while a boon to Thailand’s rural poor, has come under fire from some critics who say the Government has provided little or no assistance in the areas where it is needed most – sales and marketing. To offset this, the government now plans to establish more outlets for OTOP goods, with tourism industry provinces such as Phuket targeted first. “The Cabinet has proposed setting up an outlet in Phuket to display OTOP goods from around the country,” said K. Suthep. “There will be similar outlets in Chon Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. We are now looking for a suitable location in Phuket,” he added.
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