At the Parliament House, Bangkok, during the 1st ordinary session of the National Assembly (2nd Year), Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha gave a clarification on safe agriculture policy, tobacco taxation, water management, caring of public healthcare workers, and the issue of hygienic mask. Gist is as follows:
The Prime Minister explained that the Government has placed importance on promotion of safe agriculture policy and elimination of toxic substances, and support the resolution made by National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC). Nevertheless, farmers’ plight is also its concern, and the Government would seek other substances as a replacement of the banned chemicals. As for the grievance about agro product import standard, the Prime Minister stated that a detail investigation must be conducted, including the Codex principles for food import and export. The most important thing, however, is to create common understanding with the people.
With regard to tobacco taxation, the Government is aware of the plight of tobacco farmers, and has been promoting alternative crops as a replacement of tobacco. One problem which is often found is that tobacco has been directly processed and made into cigarettes for sale, instead of being sold to tobacco factories in the country.
The Prime Minister also underscored Government’s priority on water management. Office of National Water Resources has been established to oversee water management at the whole 13 river basins across the country. So far, this Government’s performances on water management has been quadrupled comparing to the predecessor, and more is yet to be done. From the meetings with farmers in several occasions, the Government is well aware of their problems and plights, whereas the farmers have expressed satisfaction over the Government’s related plans, and increased budget allocation. Royal projects that have been left undone are also included in the Government’s plan. The Government has also put an effort on acquiring new water catchments, of which an important step is to conduct EIA on plausible use of private lands, at owners’ will. Nonetheless, the Government will take into consideration the Opposition’s remarks on the matter.
The Prime Minister also affirmed that the Government has allocated part of national public healthcare budget (approx. 45 billion Baht) for public healthcare workers, who have worked relentlessly during COVID-19 situation, in the form of extra remunerations and allowances. The budget has been allocated in accordance with related laws, covering public healthcare workers in 3 sectors: government officials, staffs, and volunteers.
As for the issue of hygienic masks, the Prime Minister affirmed that the situation has now been eased, comparing to the earlier stage when COVID-19 situation was rapidly developed, while there were only 1-2 domestic producers of N95 masks, which were for export only. It was also extremely difficult to import the masks then due to the global demand. The Prime Minister called on the Opposition to have confidence in the country’s auditing and scrutiny system, as all the Government’s endeavors in acquiring hygienic masks are accountable and readily scrutinized by both the Parliament, State Audit Office, Anti-Money Laundering Office, National Anti-Corruption Commission, and Office of the Narcotics Control Board, aside from the existing scrutiny committee. (Thaigov.go.th)