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Relief Package

Govt approves BT20 BN initial flood spending

The Cabinet yesterday approved an initial flood-rehabilitation spending package of roughly Bt20 billion for December and January, part of a total Bt120 billion in planned spending to restore infrastructure, quality of life and the economy.

The funds will come from the government's central budget for 2012.

Flood-affected government agencies will submit requests to the Budget Bureau, which must evaluate the requests within three days, Government Spokeswoman Thitima Chaisang said.

The biggest portion of the budget - Bt13.175 billion - will go towards compensating 2.6 million inundated households in 63 provinces. The budget will be managed by the Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee on the Economy chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

Thitima said the Bt20 billion would be taken from the 2012 budget, of which Bt47 billion remains. Related state agencies yesterday submitted documents for spending worth Bt20.11 billion.

Besides giving flood-hit households Bt5,000 each, roughly Bt1.5 billion will be spent by the Flood Recovery and Restoration Commit-tee on improving quality of life. The budget allocated to restoring damaged infrastructure, amounting to about Bt3.3 billion, will be managed by the Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee on Infrastructure. Damaged roads, watergates and schools are the priority.

Thitima said the criterion for approving funds was that the money would go directly to rehabilitate people affected by floods and to stimulate the economy. Spending redundancies would not be allowed.

The initial spending package was approved at a special Cabinet meeting yesterday called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Twenty of 22 provinces in the Central region were approved for rehabilitation budgets. Those with the most severe damage would be allocated the biggest budgets. The Cabinet agreed to allocate Bangkok Bt3.1 billion, Pathum Thani Bt2.8 billion, Ayutthaya Bt2.5 billion, Nonthaburi Bt2.48 billion, Nakhon Sawan Bt740 million, Nakhon Pathom Bt446 million and Suphan Buri Bt307 million.

Yingluck said less urgent projects could be handled under the village fund scheme, which would be revived.

A previous administration led by Thaksin Shinawatra launched the scheme, under which participating villages operated a revolving fund themselves.

Later, it became a scheme for sufficiency-economy projects under the supervision of the Sufficiency Economy Office for Community Development.

"Commerce Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has pointed out that the objectives of the scheme may differ from its founding objectives. So, the sufficiency-economy fund may stay, but another fund would be established to respond to the founding objectives," Deputy Government Spokeswoman Anuttama Amornwiwat said.

When the village fund scheme is revived, villages may get different amounts depending on their |size. For example, a village |with fewer than 500 people will |likely get Bt300,000, while villages with populations ranging from 500 to 1,000 will likely get Bt400,000 each. A village with more than 1,000 people would likely receive Bt500,000.


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