Officials say handout budget ample

Officials say handout budget ample

The Finance Ministry says the government's planned budget allocation of 550 billion baht to finance a monthly 5,000-baht cash handout scheme is ample to pay those adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as well as fund the government's measures to contain the contagion.

Apart from the 550 billion baht, the government has a central budget of 45 billion baht that can be used to fund the cash giveaway if needed, finance permanent secretary Prasong Poontaneat said after chairing a meeting of the committee on impact relief.

The cabinet recently approved a royal decree to borrow 1 trillion baht, of which 600 billion baht will go towards financial aid and health-related plans for those whose jobs and businesses have been upended during the outbreak, with 400 billion baht for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure.

Of the 600-billion-baht allocation, 550 billion baht is to fund the cash handout for virus-ravaged people, with the remainder for health expenditure.

According to the government's measures, the 5,000 baht will be handed out to self-employed workers and farmers, while salaried employees covered by the Social Security Fund will get assistance from the fund.

Mr Prasong said some of the fiscal 2020 budget will be reallocated to healthcare, on top of the 45-billion-baht budget under the executive decree on borrowing, as public health is more important than the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

The government initially plans to hand out 5,000 baht a month to those affected by the virus for three months, though it could stop the financial assistance if the virus is contained, he said.

The money needs to be carefully disbursed because it is borrowed cash, he added.

The government wants to help homeless people and the disabled, Mr Prasong said, noting that the Social Development and Human Security Ministry will take responsibility for preparing information on what relief measures should be implemented.

Regarding applicants of the 5,000-baht cash handout who were rejected because the system identified them as students, he said those who work and study at the same time and are affected by the outbreak can appeal through the registered website, starting April 20.

The Finance Ministry has already paid the monthly 5,000 baht in assistance to 4 million recipients out of the 27 million registrants. All applicants are expected to be completely screened by April 23.

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