PM vows to speed up relief funds dispersal
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised to step up the pace of disbursing relief funds to assist flood victims in the Northeast, although he did acknowledge that red tape had slowed down efforts so far.
"Don't worry about money," Gen Prayut said on Thursday as he led cabinet ministers on a tour of the areas hit hardest by floods in Warin Chamrap district in Ubon Ratchathani.
"The government is working at full speed to provide help," the prime minister said.
It was Gen Prayut's second visit to flooded Ubon Ratchathani province in less than two weeks. He first visited the province on Sept 9.
The government has come under fire for its slow response to the flood crisis in Ubon Ratchathani and other northeastern provinces. The crisis is predicted to linger for many more days to come. This week, the government held a telethon which helped it rake in more than 360 million baht in donations.
However, Gen Prayut insisted the compensation and relief money needs to be disbursed through proper channels for the sake of accountability.
"How can I overlook the law and spend the money at will?" Gen Prayut said, adding the disbursement of the funds must comply with the law to keep the government from facing legal charges for abuse of authority.
He insisted that victims will be given the money as soon as possible.
One way the affected residents can ensure they receive aid promptly is by preparing documents and making sure they are ready for inspection, the prime minister said.
The provincial authorities were also assessing damage to residential areas and farmland in the flooded provinces. The provincial authorities have the authority to spend emergency funds to take care of immediate situations arising from floods.
Meanwhile, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency is taking aerial photos of the flooded areas.
However, officials are also working on the ground to get an accurate assessment of the damage, Gen Prayut said.
The donations collected during Tuesday's telethon must be spent carefully as its spending is regulated by law.
"Once the money is placed in state coffers, it is subject to an audit by the Office of Auditor-General," deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said.
He said aid money from the government will reach residents after funds raised by actor and volunteer rescue worker Bin Bunluerit.
Since public donations collected by Bin are not controlled by the state, they can be handed out quickly.
The government plans to use the donations for long-term restoration purposes including plans to rebuild, repair homes, and purchasing livestock for the residents, Mr Wissanu said.
The minister of the Prime Minister's Office, Tewan Liptapallop, said on Thursday that plans were being devised to disperse donations from the telethon quickly.
Currently, Ubon Ratchathani and three other northeastern provinces -- Yasothon, Roi Et and Sri Sa Ket -- are still struggling to deal with the serious inundations, says deputy government spokeswoman Traisuri Traisaranakun.
The Meteorological Department on Thursday warned that more rain was on the way in the Northeast.