The mobile cabinet meeting at Phetchaburi on Tuesday approved a scheme to financially support fishery communities in coastal areas and establish blue swimmer crab banks, an initiative that helps increase the number of crabs and boosts farmers' income.
Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said the government via the Government Savings Bank will provide soft loans of 150,000-200,000 baht each to 300 communities to set up blue swimmer crab banks.
There are now 191 blue swimmer crab banks in 20 coastal provinces.
Blue swimmer crab, known locally as poo ma, is a popular delicacy among Thais. Fresh crab commands more than 500 baht a kilogramme.
The crab banks will help boost stocks released into the sea.
According to a study by the National Research Council of Thailand, each blue swimmer crab (female) naturally contains about 500,000 eggs. Normally, fewer than 1% of baby crabs survive.
Mr Nathporn said farmers could fetch an income of up to 50,000 baht based on the current price of 500 baht per kg if 0.1% of the total eggs survive and grow to a size of 100 kg.
He said the cabinet ordered the research council to conduct more research and support local fishery communities to establish 500 additional blue swimmer crab banks within two years.
The Pracha Rat public-private collaborative scheme will support the distribution channel for the communities' products, while the Commerce Ministry will support marketing via the online channel and exports.
In a separate development, the mobile cabinet meeting approved a tax incentive for companies that employ low-income earners who hold state welfare cards.
The companies will be allowed to deduct employment expenses from taxable income at a rate of 1.5 times.
The incentive aims to improve the quality of life of low-income earners and encourage more companies to assist and hire such workers.
Mr Nathporn said eligible companies under the scheme must limit low-income earners with state welfare cards to 10% of their total employment.
The incentive will be offered for two years, from January this year to Dec 31, 2019, and is expected to cost 3 billion baht in lost revenue over two years.
The cabinet recently approved 35.7 billion baht for the second phase of the welfare scheme, aiming to help 1 million people cross the poverty line.
Some 5.3 million out of 11.4 million recipients of the government's welfare and subsidy scheme are living below the national poverty line, earning less than 30,000 baht a year.
The second phase will see the government allocate 35.7 billion baht to finance 34 projects that aim to raise the income of low-wage earners.
Last August, the cabinet approved the first phase of the aid package, worth 41.9 billion baht, for 11.7 million low-income earners -- 5 million of whom have income below the poverty line.
Under the scheme, the government transfers 200-300 baht a month to each welfare smart card.
Recipients earning less than 30,000 baht a year get a monthly allowance of 300 baht, while those with annual earnings of 30,000-100,000 receive 200 baht to buy discounted goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and other designated stores.
Each cardholder also receives 1,500 baht a month to subsidise transport and 500 baht for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains, and local public buses and electric trains.