Bt10 bln budget sought to aid flood victims: FTI

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BANGKOK, Nov 7 – A specially empanelled committee working on flood relief and rehabilitation recommended allocating an estimated Bt10 billion (about US$30.3 million) for distribution to affected residents and the industrial sector, according to Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) Chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol.

After it met Monday, Mr Payungsak said the committee advised compensating each flood-impacted family with Bt5,000 for a total of two million households, amounting to Bt10 billion overall.

The committee, including representatives from both government agencies and the private sector, will propose the compensation plan to the Cabinet for consideration tomorrow, expecting that the funds will be paid to flood-stricken residents during the next two weeks.

In addition, the committee concluded that a Bt100 million budget be allocated for initial rehabilitation of the flood-hit industrial sector.

The industrial sector’s rehabilitation plan is to provide temporary manufacturing plants, to drain water from flooded industrial estates, to restore overall environmental quality and safety and to examine chemical contamination in the affected area.

The FTI chairman projected that some affected industrial estates will be ready for rehabilitation and normal operation by the end of November to early December.

The industries which were hard hit by the floodwaters included automobile and auto spare parts, electrical appliance, electronics and plastic industries.

Regarding the flood situation at Bangchan Industrial Estate, Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul said although the floodwaters have risen gradually, concerned officials are speeding up draining it into the sea via Khlong Bangchan to Khlong Saensaeb and Khlong Phrakanong to the Chao Phraya River through a large tunnel.

Mr Wannarat said he hoped the operation would reduce the volume of floodwater in the area.

Regarding Lad Krabang Industrial Estate, Mr Wannarat said floodwater is now 15cm above the flood prevention dykes, but workers are pumping the water into Lamkorpai and Khlong Lamplatiew in the East, as well as through Khlong Buengbua, Khlong Putsa and the sea.

The minister said 900,000 cubic metres of water have been drained into the sea each day and more volume of drained water is expected.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Thailand (BoT) announced that as of Monday 620 commercial bank and financial institutions in eight provinces were forced to close due to flooding, with 64 more branches closing from Friday.

Bangkok flooding disrupted banking operations in 333 branches, while in Pathumthani 149 have been affected.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) topped the list of bank closure with 126 branches suspending services, followed by 94 branches for Krungthai Bank and 87 for Kasikornbank.

The SCB headquarters on Phaholyothin Road however remain open although it has been directly hit by flood.

Over, 5,262 automated teller machines (ATMs) in 21 flooded provinces been taken out of service.

As many parts of the capital have been submerged, Kitti Homrossukon, chairman of the taxi operator group, said the number of taxis on service has dropped by half, from over a hundred thousand cars to only 60,000.

Mr Kitti blamed the limited number of LPG gas stations operating as a cause of the disappearance of taxis from the streets, while the radio-assisted taxi service centre cannot provide service due to the insufficient number of vehicles.