Cabinet approves B1.9bn for water management projects in Yom River basin

The cabinet, in its mobile meeting in Sukhothai province on Tuesday (Dec 26), approved a budget of about 1.9 billion baht for projects aimed at solving problems over flooding and drought in the Yom River basin area.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, was held at the Sukhothai Physical Education Institute.

Gen Prayut revealed after the meeting that the cabinet approved a budget of 1.9 billion baht for solving the flooding and drought problems as proposed by concerned agencies which initially sought a total of 6.5 billion baht.

The approved budget will be for the expansion of the water retention area under the Bang Rakam model from 400 to 550 million cubic metres in holding capacity; the project to build canals to drain water on both sides of the Yom River, and the Tha Nang Ngam sluice gate to retain water before it flows into the Chao Phraya River.

“The Kaeng Sua Ten dam project was not raised for discussion at the meeting as I think it is a sensitive matter.  So we placed emphasis on reservoirs and areas for retaining water.  Last year, several kaem ling water retention areas could help reduce Sukhothai flooding problems considerably,” said the prime minister.

The cabinet also approved a tax break to promote tourism in 55 secondary tourism provinces.  The campaign will allow individual taxpayers to deduct up to 15,000 baht of taxable income from the expenses on travels and accommodations in these 55 provinces for a period of one year in fiscal 2018.

As New Year’s gifts to the people, the cabinet approved an exemption of fares to visit various museum and an exemption of motorway tolls.  Moreover, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) will return 30% of the interests paid by registered farmers whose loans are not over 300,000 baht as of Nov 30, 2017.

Plant seeds and animals will also be distributed to help farmers, said the prime minister.

The cabinet also approved the Culture Ministry’s request for 1.11 billion baht budget to carry out four projects for a period of four years from 2018-2021 to promote tourism in three World Heritage sites–Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet.

The budget will be for improvement of roads, development of goods and services, and surveys to find new ancient and archaeological sites.  The projects are expected to help increase the tourism revenue by 10%.