Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thansettakij columnist hits govt over ‘failed’ mask distribution

Mar 10. 2020
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By The Nation

The government’s failed administration over face-mask distribution amid the present Covid-19 situation resulting in a shortage of masks and overpriced products has become an indicator of its survival under the leadership of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Thansettakij columnist “Erawan” wrote in the newspaper.

People have started questioning where the 1.2 million-1.3 million face masks produced daily are, since they are necessary in the current situation, he wrote.

“The rumour that one of the minister’s associates was [allegedly] involved with hoarding face masks to sell to China at a price of Bt12–Bt14 each while the law limits the highest price of Bt2.50, together with the overpriced masks in the market and on online platforms, showed that the government has no capability to deal with the situation,” he said.

“Moreover, they seem to [allegedly] have a business with traders and factories seeking their own benefits while people are suffering, leading to higher public displeasure. 

“The country’s leader should rethink about how to govern the country during this crisis and contemplate using Bt120 million-Bt150 million of the national budget per month to give to medical personnel and Thai citizens for free of face masks.

“Regarding fabric face masks for the group with a low risk of infection, the plan made by Ministers Somkid Jatusripitak, Uttama Savanayana and Suriya Juangroongruangkit ordering production of 30 million fabric face masks to distribute to 10 million people was opposed by the government itself as the Interior Ministry also needed to disburse Bt225 million to produce the masks,” Erawan wrote.

“Opposition to a prior project made by the Interior Ministry was a result of the ministry’s desire to let local governments produce fabric face masks, and if it cannot meet demand, then the Thai Textile Manufacturers Association should take its place. 

“The ministry was so afraid of losing face, saying that it has allocated a budget of Bt225 million to local governments for fabric face mask production; people might find it is absurd as this is a time of crisis when everyone should jointly solve the problem.

“We have to wait and see whether face masks produced by local governments or by the private sector have a higher quality that satisfies people, but till now the situation looks like doom for people in the country, and if there is no improvement soon, the government has to count down the days to losing power,” he added.

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