20m register for financial aid

20m register for financial aid

Not everyone will get it, says finance minister

A woman stands in front of rows of closed shops at Baiyoke Tower Market in Bangkok on March 23 after it was closed by City Hall's order. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A woman stands in front of rows of closed shops at Baiyoke Tower Market in Bangkok on March 23 after it was closed by City Hall's order. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Almost 20 million people registered for Covid-19 financial aid in less than 48 hours, almost seven times the number estimated by authorities.

Some 19.8 million have registered as of 2pm on Monday, the Finance Ministry announced on its Facebook. 

The handout — at 5,000 baht per person per month for three months from April — is intended for about 3 million temporary employees, contract employees and self-employed individuals who are not covered by the social security system, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said earlier.

The registration, done online only through the website เราไม่ทิ้งกัน.com, opened on Saturday afternoon. Except for a technical glitch at the beginning, when it was overwhelmed by the number of people registering, it has since gone smoothly, according to the ministry.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said on Monday approved applicants are those affected by the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, especially temporary or self-employed workers, as well as those who were laid off, saw their working hours or salaries cut, or those whose places of work were closed by government orders.

Despite the high number, registration remains open to ensure all affected workers have access to the relief, Mr Uttama said.

He warned that a successful registration is not a guarantee the person will get the benefits.

“The applications will be vetted and screened thoroughly to ensure that they meet the criteria and those in need get it. It takes seven days to process the applications at the earliest. But due to the overwhelming demand, the process may take longer.” he said.

If all the applications as of Monday are approved, the government will need almost 300 billion baht. It is unclear at the moment where the budget will come from. But Mr Somkid said earlier an emergency borrowing could be made since there was still room for it. Thailand's public debt is at 41.3% of gross domestic product and the revised ceiling is 60%.

Meanwhile, MPs have urged the government to consult the House, which is now in recess, so they can jointly consider redistributing the 3.2-trillion-baht 2020 central budget before proceeding with new borrowings.

Some parties have urged cuts from the Defence Ministry’s hardware procurement budget while others have suggested a fixed cut, such as 10%, from each ministry’s budget to help fight the impact of the outbreak before new borrowings have to be made.  

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