Welfare scheme budget to drop by 13%

Welfare scheme budget to drop by 13%

A low-income earner shows her state welfare card before using it to buy food and other necessities.
A low-income earner shows her state welfare card before using it to buy food and other necessities.

The budget for the government's welfare and subsidy scheme for low-income earners is expected to decline by 13% to 40 billion baht in the next fiscal year after an additional monthly living allowance paid to recipients who participated in the career training programme comes to an end.

This fiscal year budget to fund the welfare scheme will be higher than next year's because an additional living allowance payment provision will lapse, while there will be fewer scheme recipients as some of them will pass away, said a source at the Comptroller-General's Department.

From the statistics, about 10,000 recipients die per month, the source said, as the majority of them are elderly.

The 46-billion-baht budget set for the scheme this fiscal year is expected to be entirely disbursed, the source said.

From October 2017 to May 2018, 27 billion baht of the budget was drawn down.

To encourage recipients to learn job skills, the government provides an additional living allowance of 100-200 baht a month to buy goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops, on top of the 200-300 baht given under the first phase.

Recipients earning 30,000-100,000 baht a year receive the extra living allowance of 100 baht a month, and those earning below the 30,000-baht-a-month poverty line get an additional 200 baht a month when they sign up for the job training programme.

Of the 11.4 million welfare and subsidy scheme recipients, 6.4 million registered to join the job training programme, of which 3.1 million were those earning below the poverty line.

From the Finance Ministry's survey, 1.7 million registrants had indicated to account officers that they did not want to take part in the skills training scheme.

Apart from training, the second phase gives low-income earners better access to financial resources covering basic needs, including homes, land for generating income and savings for retirement.

Two state-owned banks, Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, will provide loans to 2.1 million job training participants. The government has allocated 35.7 billion baht to fund the second phase, expecting to help 1 million recipients cross the poverty line this year.

The 11.4 million recipients also get subsidies for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains and local public buses and electric trains.

The government plans to allow other low-income earners, mainly the disabled, elderly and bedridden patients, to register for the state-sponsored subsidy and welfare scheme. A new registration process is set to open on June 15 and run for one-and-a-half months.

One million additional low-income earners are expected to register for the upcoming round. Eligible registrants must be over 18, with an annual income not exceeding 100,000 baht.

People who were disqualified during last year's registration are ineligible.

At present, the government spends 4.1-4.2 billion baht a month to finance the assistance scheme and almost all of the government's funds are spent buying goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops, while the remainder is used to subsidise cooking gas and public transport fares.

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