Cash aid for 8m farmers winding up

Cash aid for 8m farmers winding up

Second jobs kept 2m from receiving relief

A rice farmer at work in Nonthaburi province early this month. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A rice farmer at work in Nonthaburi province early this month. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) said it expects to finish disbursing Covid-19 aid money to eight million farmers by month's end.

The monthly payment of 5,000 baht, paid out to millions of farmers over three months, will wind down on Sunday. As of Wednesday, when the three month period ended, 28 billion baht was to have been disbursed to 8 million farmers, 2 million short of the target, said BAAC Senior Executive Vice President Kasarb Ngernruang.

Mr Kasarb said it had earlier been estimated that up to 10 million farmers adversely affected by the pandemic would get help. But many of the farmers who registered to receive assistance were disqualified because they held down other jobs which generated income.

Earlier, the Finance Ministry shot down the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry's proposal to offer 5,000 baht in cash relief to 91,000 civil servants engaged in farming for extra money, saying they do not quality as they remain on the government payroll. The BAAC, therefore, did not transfer money to them, he said.

Mr Kasarb said 527 of the farmers who received the cash aid had passed away. Another 109,000 who qualified for the second round of cash relief are also now dead.

The bank will forward their names to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to discuss whether their heirs are entitled to the aid. Eligible farmers can receive the funds through the BAAC or other bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the cabinet approved an extension of 10.3 billion baht in Covid-19 relief loans to commercial and artisanal fishermen.

The scheme is expected to benefit 2,800 fishermen, said deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek.

She said the loans will shore up liquidity for the fishermen and alleviate their plight. Many have been unable to go to sea after migrant workers returned home.

The loans, with a seven-year repayment period, will help the fishermen improve their boats, install efficient fishing gear and hire legally-registered migrant workers.

Five billion baht of the loans will come from the Government Savings Bank and the rest from the BAAC. Of the loan's 7% annual interest rate, 3% will be absorbed by the government.

Those eligible must be at least 20 years old and own or have the right to possess a fishing vessel registered in Thailand.

They must also have a least a year of professional fishing experience.

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