Several measures in store to alleviate debt

Several measures in store to alleviate debt

The government is about to introduce new financial aid measures for micro small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), manual labourers, state teachers and the elderly.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak recently assigned the Industry, Commerce, and Science and Technology ministries, as well as the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Government Savings Bank to jointly design a new aid package to reduce the debt burden on micro SMEs, manual labourers, state teachers and the elderly.

The new aid package is to be concluded over the next 10 days before submission to the cabinet for approval.

Mr Uttama said the measures should reduce debt in each segment and pave the way for people in these groups to have more opportunity to continue their business.

"The new measures are unlikely to cover farmers because the government has already implemented myriad measures to reduce debts in the farm sector," he said.

Mr Uttama said the government plans to provide training to the targeted groups to help them generate more income.

Mr Somkid said the Finance Ministry will also propose a separate welfare card for low-income elderly Thais to the cabinet in early December.

"The measure will be a New Year gift to the elderly," he said.

Earlier, the Finance Ministry planned to pay an additional 100 baht per month to elderly welfare card holders who have an annual income of less than 30,000 baht, and 50 baht per month to those who have annual income of 30,000-100,000 baht.

There are 4 million elderly citizens registered with the Finance Ministry.

The cabinet in August last year approved a draft bill to establish an elderly fund sponsored by sin taxes to offer a monthly living allowance to poor seniors.

The legislation was drafted to funnel 2% of the excise tax on liquor, beer and cigarettes, or up to 4 billion baht per year, to a fund supporting low-income elderly.

The proposed bill still needs vetting by the National Legislative Assembly.

All elderly Thais are entitled to a progressive living allowance, with 600 baht paid monthly to those aged 60-69, 700 baht to those 70-79, 800 baht to those 80-89 and 1,000 baht to those 90 and older.

Elderly earning less than 100,000 baht a year number 3.6 million nationwide.

Those aged 60 and up will account for an estimated 20% of the population by 2021, up from 16% now.

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