Radical changes to Phuket government proposed

PHUKET CITY: How should Phuket be governed? That was the question asked yesterday at a National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) seminar at the Phuket Merlin Hotel.

The seminar covered three main areas: the disadvantages of the current system of government in the province; what could replace it, and how residents would be likely to react to changes.

The President of Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor), Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, told those present that the idea of a special system of government had been proposed as long ago as 1992.

“Phuket is now in a position to take greater control of its own affairs,” she said. “Ninety percent of the population has completed secondary education, and our economy is good.

“The problem now is that the national government doesn’t support the idea of Phuket having a special system such as exists in Bangkok and Pattaya.

“I believe the OrBorJor, tambon administration organizations (OrBorTor) and municipalities should be replaced by a structure in which Phuket would be divided into five districts rather than the current three.

“There would be a 35-member council and a Governor. They would be separate from one another, but both would be elected.

“I would also like to see the revenue system changed, so that either half stays in the province and half goes to the government, or 60% stays in the province and 40% goes to central government.”

But Kamala OrBorTor Chief Administrative Officer Sajjapol Thongsom disagreed, arguing that lower levels of the administrative system had to be restructured before any changes were made to the top.

He said, “There is too much administration already. It should be reduced and simplified. We have the OrBorTor duplicating the work of the municipalities.

“Also, different parts of Phuket generate different levels of revenue; we must find a way of redistributing that revenue more equally. For example, Cherng Talay OrBorTor gets 100 million baht a year, but Saku OrBorTor gets considerably less.

“The amount of revenue generated affects the amount residents must pay for public services. For example, people in Chalong pay 20 baht for garbage collection, whereas people in Cherng Talay pay 40 baht.

“Everyone pays the same price when they go shopping in Phuket City, even if they have different amounts of money in their pockets.”

Dr Juree Vichit-Vadakan, Director of Research Projects at NIDA’s School of Public Administration, said Phuket OrBorJor had commissioned her organisation to research the merits of a special system of local government for Phuket.

The school would use the results of the seminar to compile a consultation document to be shown to interested parties in November.

The finished proposal should be ready by December, when the OrBorJor can decide whether to submit it to central government.

Phuket News
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