PHUKET CITY: The introduction of a high-tech mobile registration van late last year has recorded an increase of 16,000 in Phuket’s official population, only a small fraction of the island’s “hidden population” of about 300,000.
The project is the brainchild of Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit, who announced that tackling the hidden population problem would be a top priority after he was promoted to Governor in October 2006.
The main goal of the Internet-able van, fitted with equipment costing 4.6 million baht, is to register as many as possible of the estimated 300,000 Thais who now call Phuket home, but who are registered as residents of other provinces.
With only about half of the Thais living in Phuket registered as living here, Phuket loses out on population-based budget allotments from the central government, including those for critical areas such as education and law enforcement.
Of the people who have used the mobile registration service since it was launched in January last year, 35,117 used it to transfer out of the province compared with 49,212 who used it to register as now living in Phuket.
Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Piya Bharatasilpin admitted that the project has not been the success the provincial government had hoped for.
“The service was set up to increase the registered population, but we must allow people to use it to transfer out of the province as well,” he said.
Among those who transfered out of Phuket are recently graduated students and people who find work in other provinces, he said.
Current funding will allow the service to continue with stops about three times a month until September 25. The service is provided in areas requested by Phuket’s three District Offices, K. Piya said.
The service is not cheap. TOT charges 4,000 baht a day each day the van is used for the satellite-based Internet link, but the Interior Ministry covers the expense, he added.
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