The Finance Ministry looks set to open a new round of state welfare card registration, expecting the number of eligible recipients will outnumber the previous round due to rising numbers of jobless workers.
A source from the Finance Ministry who requested anonymity said the new round may offer the benefits to a larger range of recipients, mainly those who were unemployed after the outbreak and were left out of state welfare benefits in the previous round.
The state welfare card scheme is one of the key policies initiated by the government. Eligible recipients are required to be Thais with an annual income of not more than 100,000 baht and with financial assets of not more than 100,000 baht per person.
There are 13.7 million welfare cardholders.
State welfare cardholders are entitled to 200-300 baht a month to buy items at Thong Fah shops; a 500-baht monthly subsidy for public buses, intra-provincial buses and electric trains; and a 45-baht discount for cooking gas every three months.
"We expect the new round of the scheme will see an overwhelming number of applicants as cardholders have been seen to be granted privileges from the government," said the source.
According to the source, the ministry has also altered the eligibility criteria for the scheme to be based on families rather than individuals.
The family-based criteria will help target low-income earners who need the state financial aid, he said.
In addition to the annual income criteria, the ministry will also take into account other assets such as a maximum of 100,000 baht in deposit accounts, a house or townhouse measuring not more than 25 square wah, or a condo unit of up to 35 square metres.
Eligible recipients are also allowed to own up to 10 rai of farmland and not more than one rai of land used for other purposes than farming.
According to the source, for the new registration round, the registrants need to verify their identities at registration points, initially prescribed at the state banks and state units under the Interior Ministry.
The registration and screening processes may take time longer than those used in the state co-payment or the Rao Chana (We Win) financial relief scheme, as qualified recipients have to pass screening processes from several state agencies.
In addition, the cards under the new round have to be remodeled to not only be used at stipulated retail shops but also to withdraw cash, according to the source.