SSF loans 'just an idea', insists Wissanu

SSF loans 'just an idea', insists Wissanu

The government has quashed rumours that the prime minister ordered the Social Security Office (SSO) to extend loans from the Social Security Fund (SSF) to subscribers, sparking fears this would hurt the fund and affect pension payments.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Friday said the issue stemmed from a circular issued by the cabinet secretariat to heads of government agencies on Nov 8.

In the document, from a cabinet meeting on Nov 6, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the SSO under the Labour Ministry to coordinate with other relevant agencies, such as the Finance Ministry, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, to explore possibilities for making optimal use of money in the SSF, such as by extending loans to SSF subscribers, said Mr Wissanu.

He said the prime minister had not given "an order", but told the SSF to consider all options and inform the cabinet of the result.

"The prime minister also told other agencies to act likewise," Mr Wissanu added.

Manas Kosol, president of the network of workers insured under the social security system, yesterday voiced opposition to any move to draw on the SSF to extend loans to subscribers.

If this is allowed, numerous subscribers are expected to apply for the loans, which will cause the fund to dwindle away, which will affect pension payments, he said.

"The number of job lay-offs is currently increasing, and it is unclear how those who are still unemployed could repay their loans," said Mr Manas, also chairman of the Employees' Labour Development Council.

A subscriber, who asked not to be named, shared a similar view, saying the SSF has a financial obligation to pay pensions to elderly subscribers whose numbers will only continue to rise.

As an alternative she said, subscribers should be given access to other sources of loans provided by the government, rather than drawing on the SSF.

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