The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has asked for a special budget from the Central Fund to prevent about 4,500 forest rangers from being laid off, or faced with a 25% pay cut, due to a substantial budget reduction for the ministry in the 2023 fiscal year.
Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said in his Facebook post today (Friday) that he and senior staff at the ministry are very concerned over the predicament confronted by the forest rangers, who are mostly salaried employees and do not enjoy government officials’ fringe benefits.
He said that these forest rangers play a vital role in protecting the country’s 10.4 million hectares of forests, protecting wildlife from poachers and fighting forest fires in a hard and, at times, risky job, despite the low pay.
He also said that he and senior administrators have been trying to solicit support from different sources, including the private sector, to provide welfare services to the rangers.
He cited the case of the TPI Polene Company, which has promised to arrange life insurance coverage for the rangers, which may help boost their morale.
The minister said that he hopes that the Budget Bureau will realise the importance of the roles of the forest rangers in protecting the country’s fauna and flora and will grant additional budget from the Central Fund.
Last week, National Park Office Director Damras Phoprasit told Thai PBS that up to 1,731 forest officials had been laid off, while the majority, or about 80%, of the officials conceded to the pay cut, from about 9,000 baht to 7,500 baht a month.