THAI TIMES 1,600 staff have been paid to work on the Thai government’s massive holiday-holding program that has been plagued by delays, high costs and cost overruns, the government said on Friday.
The new total was announced after a government inquiry into the scheme found the plan to be in breach of a contract with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that expires next year.
It also said the IOM contract had expired on April 8.
The IOM said it was unable to guarantee payments to staff who had already been contracted for the scheme.
“The Iommi contract is up for renewal and the Iommis contractual obligation remains the same.
The Iommies contractual obligation is to make payments to the staff and the Government will honour its contractual obligation,” IOM spokesman Simon Kavulak said.”
All staff members are fully paid according to their duties and the total of all payments to them will be the same as the previous year.”
Thailand is currently on a four-day holiday break from April 28-29, as well as an extended visit to China.
On April 4, the Government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced the program would now be extended by two days, instead of the usual one day, and also extended to March 21.
It said the extension would ensure the programme had the full support of the government and public.
In a statement, the ministry said it planned to meet the demands of the inquiry to complete the contract on time and in full.
It did not say how long the extension might take.
“We will be looking at all the options in order to ensure the project is delivered on time,” said the statement.
Thailand, which has a population of about 30 million, has struggled with an ageing population, high unemployment and low birthrates as the economy has slowed.
The government also faces a $1.4 billion budget deficit this year.
The extension of the program was welcomed by many in the labour movement, who said they expected the extension to bring a boost to the labour force and boost tourism.
But the International Labour Organisation said the plan was unfair and could damage the country’s labour market.
It called on the government to ensure all staff in the holiday-hold program were paid, especially those in high-risk occupations such as doctors, lawyers and teachers.
“It’s a great step forward, but there is a lot of work to be done and a lot more work still to be performed in terms of the recruitment of qualified and experienced workers,” said Paul Brannigan, the ILO’s chief regional representative.
The number of workers who have left the programme in recent months has hit a record high of nearly 20,000.
More than 12,000 workers have already left the program since it started in October.
It is not clear when the holiday hold will be completed.
The last scheduled holiday hold was in February 2016, when the government announced it would extend it by one day from May 14 to June 6.