PHUKET: Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office MP Worawat Ue-Apinyakul was in Phuket over the weekend and told The Phuket News that the cancellation of the Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICEC) was for ‘environmental’ as well as ‘economic’ reasons.
MP Worawat restated that the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) had not approved the submitted plans for the Phuket ICEC in August as the proposed land was in a mangrove forest area that was also used by sea turtles to give birth.
“It was not appropriate to build,” MP Worawat said, “Furthermore, we didn’t have any idea of who would have taken charge of the ICEC and if someone does not manage it effectively, we would have lost more than we would have gained.”
He also mentioned that the ICEC might even have had a negative impact on the island’s economy.
“This would have detracted from the private sector who wanted to invest in the area. I recently heard that a big private company (The Central Group) has plans to open an ICEC here. We, as the government sector, should not compete with them,” he said. MP Worawat did not give the company’s name.
He also suggested that people should not only focus on the ICEC project. He said there will be many other big projects in the Andaman region such as new hospitals and other infrastructural developments that the government is ready to support.
Meanwhile former Prime Minister, MP Abhisit Vejjajiwa, who approved the B2.6 billion budget for the Phuket ICEC during his time in office said yesterday (October 28) that he ‘totally disagreed’ with the government regarding this matter, and that it would badly affect Phuket’s economy.
“We totally disagree with the government. We think this is an irresponsible decision,” MP Abhisit said, “The plan to set up the exhibition centre for Phuket was part of the strategy to increase tourists in Thailand – not only for Phuket. It will damage not only Phuket tourism but also Thai tourism.”
He also said that the cancellation of the project was a politically narrow-minded decision.
“We think it is political. There’s no other good reason for it. This is very narrow-minded.
“When we [Democrat Party] were in government we insisted that Chiang Mai and Phuket were part of the [overall Thailand] strategy for us,” he said.
He added that if the Democrat Party were to come back into power, the Phuket ICEC would once again be looked at. However, he added, the party would need to investigate problems with land and check what has happened to the B2.6 billion budget.
Here’s what MP Abhisit told The Phuket News at the weekend.