Prayut orders faster stimulus release
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the Finance Ministry and related agencies to speed up fresh economic stimulus measures to continue spurring domestic spending.
On Monday, the premier also instructed the Finance Ministry and related agencies to accelerate the rollout of the third phase of the co-payment scheme and continue the Rao Chana (We Win) financial relief scheme and the Section 33 We Love Each Other programme.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, to maintain economic recovery momentum the third phase of the co-payment subsidy scheme needs to be introduced in June this year.
He cited the Finance Ministry's report that found the co-payment scheme and other measures could stimulate domestic spending.
He said the government sees it as imperative to continue the stimulus schemes to stimulate domestic consumption.
According to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), spending in the state-initiated co-payment subsidy scheme has topped nearly 100 billion baht, while the We Win financial relief scheme amounted to 147 billion baht.
Under the co-payment scheme, the government pays for 50% of food, drink and general goods purchases of up to 150 baht per person per day, capped at 3,500 baht per person for a specified duration.
The first phase of the scheme started on Oct 23 and ended on Dec 31.
The government allocated 30 billion baht for the first phase, covering 10 million people, with each receiving a 3,000-baht money transfer.
The second phase, which started on Jan 1 and ends March 31, covers an additional 5 million people, with the subsidies raised to 3,500 baht per person.
Approved in January, the We Win scheme aims to provide 210 billion baht in handouts for 32.4 million eligible people to alleviate hardships caused by the recent outbreak.
The key criteria for those receiving the 7,000-baht handout for two months, with 1,000 baht disbursed per week, consist of a taxable income of no more than 300,000 baht per year, or a monthly income not exceeding 25,000 baht. Bank deposit accounts must not exceed 500,000 baht.
According to Kulaya Tantitemit, the FPO's director-general, between March 21 and Oct 23 last year when the scheme kicked off, spending in the co-payment scheme (both from the subsidy and out of pocket) amounted to a combined 98.8 billion baht.
"The scheme has been highly successful in promoting domestic consumption and economic rehabilitation, with low-income earners and small-scale retail shops nationwide greatly benefiting," she said. "There are more than 14.79 million eligible recipients and 1.5 million outlets participating in the scheme."
According to Ms Kulaya, of the total spending, the state subsidy was worth around 48.2 billion baht and 50.6 billion was out of pocket.
The five provinces that saw the highest spending were Bangkok, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Songkhla and Chiang Mai.
With the scheme scheduled to end on March 31, Ms Kulaya urged eligible people to use up their subsidy within March 31 this year.