Deputy PM orders faster payment of compensation hinh anh 1People in the central provinces receive compensation for the mass fish deaths (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has asked four central provinces to speed up disbursement of compensation for mass fish deaths earlier in April so as to complete the first payment phase before the Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival.

Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue are the provinces that were affected by the toxic spill caused by Taiwanese firm Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation (FHS). The spill caused millions of fish to die, imperiling the health and livelihoods of coastal residents.

In a document issued by the Government Office following a meeting of the steering committee set up to deal with the incident, the Deputy PM also instructed the People’s Committees of the four provinces to work with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Ministry of Finance to submit compensation proposals for those not included in the original list of recipients.

Under a September 29 decision, the original list of individuals and businesses eligible for assistance included fishermen, owners of fishing boats and their employees, owners of and workers at seafood cold storage facilities, fish sauce and shrimp paste makers, and fish and shrimp farms. The list was expanded later to include seafood processors, service providers in coastal areas, seafood traders and others.

The Deputy PM also asked the Ministry of Health to work with relevant agencies to assess the quality of seafood caught within 20 nautical miles of the four provinces’ seabed and submit the results to the Prime Minister.

He said provincial authorities should sort out their seafood inventories into what can and cannot be used when proposing compensation solutions to a working group led by the Ministry of Industry and Trade that will verify the results.

He also underscored the need to increase communication in seeking public consensus on the government’s compensation efforts as well as supervision of Formosa Corporation’s production processes.

The first phase of compensation disbursement to people suffering from the mass fish deaths began late October and Quang Tri province was the first to complete it by the end of November.

The province disbursed over 202 billion VND (8.9 million USD) from the Government Budget to owners of fishing boats and their employees.

Most of the compensation recipients in the province said they would use the money to buy fishing tools and invest in expanding farming and animal husbandry to revive production and restore normal lives.

The compensation for the affected will be calculated from April to September 2016, with funds sourced from the 500 million USD compensation paid by Formosa.

The mass fish deaths were first reported on April 6 when a large number of fish washed ashore in Ha Tinh province. It soon spread to Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

About 70 tonnes of dead fish were found in the four central provinces, with Thua Thien-Hue province alone reporting the deaths of 35 tonnes of farm-raised fish.

The spill also affected the lives of over 260,000 people who depend on the sea for a living.-VNA