PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday hit back at critics who accused his government of failing to eliminate poverty after four years of reforming the country.
Prayut said his government had addressed the country’s issues systematically and those efforts would take time before achievements resulting from reforms could be seen.
Over the past four years, reforms had been made to the country’s laws, public administration and other systems, he said.
“It is difficult to reform the entire system because it involves many people,” the PM said.
He also said Thailand needed to manage its water resources carefully and efficiently in order to prevent a future shortage of water.
“I am worried that climate change may lead to a water shortage and a war to fight for water. Thailand relies mainly on rainfall for our water supply. What will we do without rainfall?” he said.
Prayut called for cooperation between the government, authorities and citizens to deal with environmental issues, particularly those regarding encroachment of national forests and illegal logging.
He said Thailand, being an agricultural country, had been directly affected by climate change. He added that the country needed reform in the area of national resources and the environment.
The PM was speaking at Government House, where he presided over a seminar on the management of the country’s water resources. The event was attended by representatives from relevant state agencies, as well as governors from vasrious provinces.
“This seminar allows all sides to take part in the management of water throughout the country,” he told those present. “This is a preparation for dealing with water situations today and in the future, efficiently, for true integration.”
He said that as part of a national strategy, his government had taken measures to make sure there was a sufficient supply of water. Among those measures, he said, was ensuring that underground water was being used properly in many areas to ease the problems resulting from drought and flooding.
He also implied that, unlike its predecessors, his government was more open about official statistics regarding the country’s water resources.
“We are planning for growing rice covering 60 million rai (9.6 million hectares) throughout the country. All sectors will be allocated 88,700 million cubic metres of water. After the rainy season, the country will have about 60,000 million cubic metres of water left for the next dry season. That is 10,910 million cubic metres more than the previous year,” Prayut said.
“Have you ever known about this information? Did any [past] government tell it to you like this? No.”
The PM disputed a claim made by some critics that the government’s water resource management strategy, covering the period from 2015 until 2026 meant he planned to be in power for the next eight years.
“Are they crazy?” he asked, stressing that that such a strategy was needed for long-term planning, not just for covering the term of his government.
Also, the PM said, new water sources were required to meet the upcoming higher demand in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project area.
“Additional water sources are needed and we have five to 10 years to do so before a problem emerges. We need to start doing it from today,” he said.