Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if Covid-19 vaccine administration is given the green light to be funded by local municipalities. Suspicions are being raised as analysts say many municipalities who offer to fund the vaccines may have ulterior political motives.
As many as 20 municipalities are reporting that they have already set aside funding. Ratchaburi Town Municipality has set aside more than 200 million baht to acquire the Covid-19 vaccines but is waiting for the government’s permission to go ahead with local funding.
In Bangkok which has over 5 million citizens, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is on standby to use 10 billion baht towards vaccinating its residents.
While those in charge of “richer” municipalities say they are certain they can afford Covid vaccines for their residents, their enthusiasm is being met with suspicion as local administrations historically have restricted experiences and capabilities in this area.
Nonthaburi Municipality mayor Somnuek Thanadechakul and other local administrators agree on the plan of treating residents using local funds as they say it can help advance the vaccination process.
Leader of the opposition Move Forward Party Pita Limcharoenrut disagrees as he says it is the responsibility of the government alone to get quality vaccines for everyone.
If local administrations are allowed to buy vaccines he says poorer ones will be at a disadvantage.
“It’s clear that local administrators are using this opportunity to boost their popularity ahead of the next elections.”
Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt has also proposed that the BMA has enough funds to vaccinate 8 million people living in the capital for free.
“The BMA has enough money to shoulder this responsibility immediately.”