Informal workers need bank accounts for handouts

Informal workers need bank accounts for handouts

A man receives a free haircut at a job fair run by the Labour Ministry to promote informal labour in February 2019. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
A man receives a free haircut at a job fair run by the Labour Ministry to promote informal labour in February 2019. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Informal workers must have monetary deposits in a bank account to be eligible for the 3,500-baht financial relief available for a two-month period, says a Finance Ministry source.

The sum of deposits required to be eligible for the financial relief is confidential at this time, according to the source who requested anonymity.

The sum cannot be disclosed because that could lead to circumvention, said the source.

Having cash in deposit accounts was also a criteria for the previous 5,000-baht money transfer scheme that ran from April to June last year.

The government used a budget of around 390 billion baht to provide last year’s monthly stipend scheme, which ran for three months, said the source.

According to the source, investigations determined some of the people who protested in front of the Finance Ministry last year, claiming they had not received the monthly relief payments, actually held deposits of around 10 million baht in their bank accounts.

The two monthly payments of 3,500 baht each are among a number of recent measures designed to ease people's financial burdens during the pandemic. The others are reduced electricity and water bills, and soft loans to businesses.

Informal workers, freelancers and farmers who are not covered by the social security system are eligible for payments under the new relief measure.

A government source said about 30 million people are expected to receive the handouts and a budget of 210 billion baht has been set aside for this purpose.

The Finance Ministry must still work out the details of the fund distribution.

Its proposal is scheduled to be discussed during next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

The screening process for applicants for the latest financial relief package is likely to be conducted using the databases of relevant government agencies to exclude people who do not meet the eligibility requirements, said the source.

Some of the groups ineligible for this relief scheme include those already covered by social security benefits, civil servants, employees in private enterprises and employees of state-owned enterprises.

For example, if it were estimated that 40 million people were eligible for the package, government agencies would then verify whether these people are covered under the Social Security Fund's Section 33, said the source.

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