GSB offers occupation loans
B10bn set aside for welfare recipients
The state-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) is set to offer 10 billion baht in loans, aimed at encouraging the state welfare scheme's recipients to get jobs and escape poverty.
The borrowers are required to participate in job training to be provided by the bank, said Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, GSB chief executive and president.
Each borrower will be eligible to apply for up to 50,000 baht in occupation loans, he said, noting that 20,000-30,000 borrowers are expected to join the 200 job training projects.
Enhancing employment opportunities is a cornerstone of the second phase of the government's welfare and subsidy scheme for the poor to help them cross the poverty line sustainably.
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and GSB will act on behalf of the government to provide job training to boost income for those who are at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.
There are 11.7 million recipients of the government's welfare and subsidy scheme this year.
The Finance Ministry is working out the details for the second phase of the government's welfare scheme, which is slated to go before the cabinet next month, with implementation likely scheduled for January.
Mr Chatchai said the bank will collaborate with local universities and other educational institutions to provide working skills to welfare recipients and the elderly poor as part of the government's efforts to open up career opportunities to create income streams for them to boost their annual income to over 100,000 baht.
"The project is named People's University," he said. "At present, 16 universities are expected to participate in the scheme and we aim to include 20 universities next year. These universities will provide classrooms, lecturers and curricula such as cooking and Chinese language classes. They can work upon completing these courses, while the bank will cover the training expenses."
The training course is expected to start early next year.
Mr Chatchai said those who passed such training courses are eligible for the occupational loan, the rate of which is expected to be similar to the bank's People Bank at 1% per month.
The bank will also propose the Finance Ministry seek the cabinet's approval to compensate any damages incurred from the occupational loans.
"We have ample liquidity to facilitate the government's policy," Mr Chatchai said. "Our loan portfolio amounts to 2 trillion baht, of which more than 600 billion is for retail and business loans and the remainder is for general loans."
In related news, the government's welfare recipients spent a combined 5.22 billion baht during Oct 1 to Nov 12 for goods and services provided for free using smart cards, says a senior official at the Comptroller-General's Department.
Welfare smart cards have already been distributed to 10.5 million of 11.7 million total welfare recipients since October, who have made 19.8 million transactions through the cards so far, said Deputy Comptroller-General Yanee Sangsrichun.
In late August the cabinet approved the first phase of the aid package, worth 41.94 billion baht, for low-income earners.
Under the scheme, the government transfers 200-300 baht per month to each welfare smart card. Recipients earning under 30,000 baht a year get a monthly allowance of 300 baht and those with annual earnings of 30,000 to 100,000 baht receive 200 baht to buy discounted goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and other designated stores.
Each cardholder also receives 1,500 baht each month to subsidise transport, and 500 baht for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains, and local public buses and electric trains.