New subsidies aimed at poor folk, farmers

New subsidies aimed at poor folk, farmers

Measures to be included on state welfare smartcard

The government plans to launch new stimulus measures for low-income earners and farmers in the form of energy price subsidies and cheap fertiliser, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

These measures will be included on the state welfare smartcard to provide the subsidy directly to holders.

Mr Somkid told Energy Ministry officials that lower-income citizens and farmers should have higher purchasing power through smartcards to help with the cost of living.

The current subsidies for energy prices, consisting of 230 baht per month for power bills and 45 baht every three months for cooking gas, will expire at the end of September.

The new measures include a discount for compressed natural gas and cooking gas for food vendors and hawkers, while the current subsidies will be extended.

"Further details will be concluded very soon by all relevant state agencies," Mr Somkid said.

He also ordered PTT Plc, the national oil and gas conglomerate, to accelerate commercial production of tailor-made organic fertiliser, which has been successfully tested by PTT researchers.

The laboratory process is conducted by Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology, PTT's educational institution in Rayong province's Wang Chan Valley.

"Fertiliser is a major cost for farmers," Mr Somkid said.

PTT also collaborated with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to develop the fertiliser formula to be suitable for many crops and fruits, and to benefit the soil in different regions.

PTT had the soft launch for organic fertiliser in March, but the final stage of the formula is still being tested in the laboratory.

Commercial distribution has not begun.

Mr Somkid said PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc (PTTOR) has been told to allocate space in petrol stations to be the distribution channel for fertiliser products.

PTTOR initiated the Thai Ded Project to support local crops, fruits and other products at the provincial level to be sold at PTT petrol stations.

The project aims to tap 100 stations by 2019.

Separately, talks for the Thai-Cambodia Overlapping Claims Area (OCA) for offshore gas blocks in the Gulf of Thailand should be resumed in order to accelerate new gas resources of the two countries, Mr Somkid said.

The OCA was claimed in 1973, but the two parties have yet to break through in their negotiations.

In addition, Mr Somkid said the government aims to push Thailand to become the leader of Southeast Asia's electricity trade by upgrading high-voltage transmission lines nationwide in order to ease power distribution from Laos to Malaysia and Myanmar.

"Thailand is the highest-potential location to facilitate the power trade across the region, but the current situation lacks suitable infrastructure," he said.

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