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Phuket will need to compete at a different level with Asean competition

The PHUKET 10/10 Campaign: Show Us the Money and Open an Asean Door

Thursday, March 15, 2012
PHUKET: Our first three items in the PHUKET 10/10 list concerned saving Phuket's beaches, the most immediate issue faced by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet in looking at what needs to be fixed - and quickly - on Phuket.

Today's issues 4 and 5 are more about structure and the future.

4. Balancing Phuket's Budget

JUST A FEW years ago, the then Governor of Phuket was despondent when we appeared for an interview. That morning, Bangkok has slashed in half the budget he reckoned he needed to run Phuket efficiently. He was not the first or the last governor to find himself in that situation. Last month, former Phuket Governor Chadejin Insawang proposed a commonsense answer: don't continue to base the sum that goes back to Phuket on the small number of citizens registered here, a false and misleading figure. Give Phuket back a percentage of the money it generates as revenue for Thailand. To retain Phuket as an appealing destination for tourists, quality infrastructure has to be provided and maintained. It's a wise idea to make that sum realistic. If Phuket only had to cope with 320,000 registered citizens and their families, the old system would suffice. But with the real figure of people on Phuket probably three times the registered number, it's vital for Phuket's budget to be revised.

5. Connecting with Asean

AS A TOURIST holiday destination, Phuket is a one-trick circus pony. The other pony, property, broke a leg and is hobbling out of the ring. Whenever there are quakes in the tourism industry, whenver the tourism needle turns down, Phuket suffers. While a quck injection of concessions to foreign property owners might get the other pony back into action, help seems unlikely to come at a time when overseas investors are even being blamed for the holes in the circus tent. Phuket's geographical position close to the major Asean members, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, makes it ideal as Asean's southern centre in Thailand. With the Asean economic community arriving fast in 2015, give Phuket a larger role in Asean by creating training facilites here. Shift the relevant parts of Foreign Affairs to Phuket. Make Phuket a showcase for trade and commerce within Asean. Boost Phuket's role in national affairs. Make Thailand's most international island-city the springboard for all southern regional connections.

Look for more in the PHUKET 10/10 series, coming soon. Prime Minister Yingluck and Cabinet meet on Phuket on March 19-20.

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Sunday January 24, 2021
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