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Abhisit denies his govt spent all flood cash

Written By photo 7 background picture on Friday, September 2, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Five provinces along the Chao Phraya inundated

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is dismissing allegations by the Pheu Thai-led government that his government used up the entire fiscal year's budget to pay for flood relief.
The government actually had billions of baht in the general budget left which was more than enough to fund flood relief operations for the whole of this month _ the last month of the 2011 fiscal year, Mr Abhisit said.
The government should stop making excuses to avoid compensating flood-hit farmers at the rate it had promised them, he said yesterday.
Checks showed the new government had about 3.3 billion baht left to use, yet it claimed the previous government had left an insufficient amount of flood relief money, said Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut.
Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul said during a flood inspection trip to the lower North last weekend that only a small amount of the central budget was left from the previous government to spend on flood relief.
Democrat MP for Phitsanulok Warong Dejkijwikrom said the government should show whether it is sincere in keeping its promise of paying a higher rate of compensation for losses caused by flooding.
On Tuesday, the cabinet agreed to pay flood-hit farmers compensation of 2,222 baht per rai of damaged crops.
The Abhisit government paid 2,098 baht per rai in financial assistance to flood-hit farmers.
The flood situation intensified yesterday with at least five provinces along the Chao Phraya River flooded by run-off that overflowed the river's banks.
The floods covered certain parts of Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya and Lop Buri provinces.
The inundation had only not ravaged paddy fields but also resulted in farmers being forced to sell rice to middlemen at marked-down prices, said Thai Farmers Association president Wichian Phuanglamchiak.
The median price of rice bought in these provinces had fallen to less than 7,000 baht a tonne.
Some buyers had begun refusing to buy rice from flooded areas claiming its moisture level was too high, said Mr Wichian.
The irony was that while people in these provinces were suffering the consequences of flooding, the director of the 10th Royal Irrigation Office, whose job was ease the flooding problem, was now on a trip to Japan along with his subordinates, Mr Wichian complained.
The Royal Irrigation Department warned yesterday the water level in the Chao Phraya River would rise today and areas along the river should brace for intensified floods.
The Public Health Ministry said a total of 784 people affected by flooding had been diagnosed with depression.
So far, about 66,700 other people had suffered physical ailments and diseases ranging from diarrhoea to Leptospirosis, he said.