Local tourism stimulus goes under review for third phase

Local tourism stimulus goes under review for third phase

Scheme perks run until year-end

A visitor checks out deals on tourism products and services at the Thai Tiew Thai tourism fair in Bangkok in June. (File photo)
A visitor checks out deals on tourism products and services at the Thai Tiew Thai tourism fair in Bangkok in June. (File photo)

The Finance Ministry will take one month to evaluate whether a third phase of the Chim, Shop, Chai (taste, shop, spend) scheme is still needed.

The ministry will take time to assess the outcomes of the first and second phases of the scheme to consider whether demand is still rampant, said Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana.

His comment came after Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the scheme, which generates income for the community, will continue.

Mr Uttama said the second phase's quota of 3 million people has already been filled.

The cabinet last week approved the second phase of the cash handouts and cash rebates, which run until the end of the year.

Under the second phase, participants still enjoy the same 1,000-baht cash handout as well a cash rebate of up to 20%.

About 10 million people who registered under the first phase, which kicked off on Sept 23 and offered a 15% rebate, are also entitled to the 20% rebate.

The spending scheme is part of the government's 316-billion-baht stimulus package, aimed at boosting the country's economic growth to 3% this year after the economy lost momentum, mainly weighed down by sagging exports.

Mr Uttama said the government also plans to offer free accident insurance policies as additional welfare to 14.6 million state welfare smartcard holders.

To deal with loan sharks, he said two state-owned banks, the Government Savings Bank (GSB) and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), plan to jointly provide loans of up to 50,000 baht per borrower to help low-income earners avoid seeking underground loans.

Both banks managed to lend a combined 2.7 billion baht for this loan scheme, while the ministry has encouraged operators to apply for pico-finance and nano-finance licences to enable low-income earners better access to financial sources, he said.

The ministry has also asked the GSB and BAAC to be mentors for savings and credit cooperatives to become community financial institutions and improve opportunities for people to have better access to funding, he said.

"Welfare offered under the Pracha Rat scheme must be constantly developed. Accident insurance is on my mind -- what do the poor do if an accident happens and they lose income?" Mr Somkid said.

"Regarding the third phase of the Chim, Shop, Chai scheme, don't lose patience as we need to consider the scheme's purposes. The ministry wants to create domestic economic activity."

Exports and money circulation in the domestic economy are the two main contributors to economic growth, he said.

The government aims to take care of both the poor and the rich by enhancing the latter's competitive edge on the international level, while concentrating on income distribution to help the poor, said Mr Somkid.

Commenting on the US's planned removal of Generalized System Preferences advantages for Thailand, he said the country has not been underdeveloped for some time.

Some Thai products are not strong enough to compete internationally, said Mr Somkid.

"We need to have friendly talks, not turn into foes following the privilege elimination," he said.

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