Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has ordered the speedy establishment of a special committee to prepare for and respond to the impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon.
The committee is expected to study the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in different provinces in order to implement rapid response measures, as waiting for traditional budget allocation may be insufficient.
Government spokesperson Dr Chai Wacharonke said issuing a state of emergency will enable local authorities, such as tambon administrative organisations, provincial administrative organisations and local municipalities with sufficient budget reserves to disburse funds immediately for projects such as creating weirs, underground water banks and other small-scale initiatives that can be managed locally.
"During the meeting yesterday, the cabinet received a report on the global confirmed impact of El Niño, which is expected to last for up to three years. If Thailand does not have a good plan to address this situation, it could lead to damage estimated at a minimum of 600 billion baht up to 2 trillion baht over three years," said Dr Chai.
"The prime minister ordered the establishment of a special committee to prepare for the impact."
In a related development, Dr Chai said the cabinet also approved a revival plan for the local fishing industry to regain a global leadership position.
Thailand was previously a top exporter of seafood products, but for a variety of reasons, including charges of forced labour, it lost that position.
A committee is scheduled to be formed on creating a sustainable fishing industry, chaired by Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai.
Visit Limlurcha, president of the Thai Future Food Trade Association and vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, voiced support for the government committee to address the weather phenomenon.
Research indicates the impact of El Niño could last for three years, said Mr Visit.
Provinces at high risk may require special attention, as the impact will not only affect the agricultural sector and farmers' income, but also people's livelihood, food security and food prices if the weather patterns lead to reduced food production, he said.