Govt agrees to pay millions of baht in assistance money to fish farmers

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
22 March 2007, at 12:00am

THAILAND - The cabinet has agreed in principle to advance millions of baht in assistance money to fish farmers devastated by recent pollution in the Chao Phraya river. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thira Sutabutra said the cabinet had not put a hold on plans to offer 28 million baht in assistance payments, dismissing concerns aired by farmers earlier this week.

Thira: Farmers could sue those responsible

The government has allocated the money for farmers in Ayutthaya and Ang Thong provinces after fish being raised in breeding pens in the Chao Phraya river died when polluted water flowed down from Ang Thong earlier this month.

However, the farmers will have to pay back any assistance money they receive from the government after they are able to collect damages from the party found responsible for the pollution, he said.

The payments will cover about 60% of the estimated value of the damage for each farm, which averages out to roughly 33,000 baht for each fish farm.

Mr Thira said the money would help the farmers get back on their feet sooner, as it would take time for them to win any damages through the courts.

But before the money can be disbursed, the National Resources and Environment Ministry must be consulted to find out if there is any law governing the practice of advancing assistance money, he said.

If no such law exists, a cabinet resolution will be secured authorising the disbursement. It is expected that the issue will be on the agenda of the cabinet meeting next week, he said.

Earlier, fish farmers in Ang Thong and Ayutthaya provinces threatened to rally outside Government House after they were not given the financial assistance they were promised. They criticised the government for delaying the help.