DES chief seeks nod for B100 mobile aid

DES chief seeks nod for B100 mobile aid

Assistance scheme to last two months

The Digital Economy and Society he will seek cabinet approval for 100-baht monthly assistance for two months for mobile subscribers.
The Digital Economy and Society he will seek cabinet approval for 100-baht monthly assistance for two months for mobile subscribers.

Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta says he will seek cabinet approval for 100-baht monthly assistance for two months for mobile subscribers of both prepaid and postpaid systems.

The first batch of assistance could help 5 million mobile users who can sign up for the scheme on a registration platform, according to his initiative.

Once successfully registered, postpaid users will be eligible for a 100-baht monthly discount provided by operators for two months. Prepaid subscribers are also allowed a 100-baht monthly credit for two months.

Some 2 billion baht is expected to be used to fund the scheme, aimed at helping people struggling during the pandemic.

Mr Buddhipongse told the Bangkok Post he will propose the scheme at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday for approval.

Representatives from the three major mobile operators, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and Mr Buddhipongse recently discussed the assistance at the NBTC office.

No conclusion has been reached as to responsibility for establishing the registration platform or the package's funding, he said, though it is highly likely funding would be drawn directly from the government's budget.

Mr Buddhipongse said the DES Ministry cannot use money from its Digital Fund because the assistance is not in line with the objective of the fund, aimed at promoting digital transformation and development through projects and activities.

He said the funding also cannot be drawn from money raised through 5G spectrum licence auctions held by the NBTC last February because that sum has to be passed on to the Finance Ministry.

This method would also be impractical because it would require budgeting procedures that would have to be considered by the House of Representatives, said Mr Buddhipongse.

Winners of 700-megahertz licences from the auction are obliged to pay the first instalment of licence fees by next month. Auction winners of the 2600MHz spectrum licences must pay for the entire licence fees by next month.

Advanced Info Service and True Move H Universal Communication, which secured the 2600MHz spectrum licences, paid the first instalment of the licences last year.

An executive of a major mobile operator who requested anonymity said mobile operators rejected developing a central platform for assistance registration.

"It is most likely the NBTC office would be responsible for developing the registration platform, which could take about 1-2 weeks to establish," said the executive. Following registration by users, operators would filter only their customers and confirm registration via SMS, said the source.

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