Government 'neglecting flood situation in the Northeast'
September 26, 2013 00:00
By The Nation
Opposition say bigger budget required, lists 10 key failures by administration
DAY TWO of the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s reporting to Parliament of its accomplishments over the past 12 months saw the opposition Democrat Party attacking the administration for allocating insufficient funds to deal with flood and irrigation issues in the Northeast, as well as for alleged failures in 10 areas including education.
The government insisted, however, that the number of poor people had been reduced, while describing the delivery of quality education as a prolonged problem facing the Kingdom.
The government was criticised by opposition MPs for seeking five large loans totalling Bt3.3 trillion. The sum constitutes the largest amount of loans ever sought by any administration, the opposition said.
The opposition questioned why, although the ruling Pheu Thai Party has 104 MPs from the Northeast, a smaller budget had been allocated to the region to tackle floods and improve irrigation. Some 35,000 households in the Northeast face drought, while only 20,000 households in the North face similar challenges, they argued. Jurin Laksanawisit, a party-list MP for the Democrat Party, said the government did little to restore democracy beyond handing Bt7.5 million to families whose relatives were killed during the 2010 protest.
Democrat MP for Trang province Satit Wongnongtaey meanwhile accused the government of making a number of mistakes in preparing report documents, particularly on the 2011-2012 flood. Satit added that flood management was ineffective.
Rice-pledging scheme defended
On the government side, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boon-songpaisan defended the rice-pledging scheme as effective and beneficial to rice farmers. He said it led to an average annual increase in farmers’ income of Bt66,000 and helped reduce the number of poor people. He vowed to continue with the scheme. Meanwhile, Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat province, listed 10 government failures.
They were: 1) failure to tackle the rising price of commodities; 2) failure to achieve national reconciliation; 3) low standard of education; 4) attempts to grant blanket amnesty; 5) failure to solve the problem in the three southern-most provinces; 6) corruption related to the rice-pledging scheme; 7) failure to solve the falling price of rubber; 8) failed first-car ownership and tax-rebate for first-time home owner projects; 9) adverse economic effects from the minimum daily wage hike to Bt300 and starting salary for university graduates at Bt15,000; and 10) huge government loans. Chinnaworn highlighted the falling standard of education, saying there were now 800,000 schoolchildren who are illiterate.
Deputy Premier Phongthep Thepkanjana defended the administration on the state of Thai education by saying that the problem of illiteracy has been plaguing Thailand for the past six or seven years.
He also defended the non-enforcement of very short haircuts for schoolboys, saying any regulation must be sensible.