Chamber says B42bn aid deal insufficient

Chamber says B42bn aid deal insufficient

A sign for the Rao Chana (We Win) scheme is displayed at a food stall in the Silom area of Bangkok.  Somchai Poomlard
A sign for the Rao Chana (We Win) scheme is displayed at a food stall in the Silom area of Bangkok.  Somchai Poomlard

The recent 42-billion-baht package of financial assistance for people and businesses affected by the partial lockdown is far from sufficient to offset the impact of rising infections, says the head of the local commerce chamber.

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, proposed the government immediately draw a budget from the new 500-billion-baht loan decree to roll out more effective remedial measures to help businesses and people affected by the measures within the third quarter.

"We see the latest package as insufficient to compensate the business sector and people ravaged by Covid-19," said Mr Sanan.

"The government may have to spend much more money to support people and businesses that have no income and have to bear various expenses, as the fresh Covid-19 outbreak is serious and may take a long time to control."

On Tuesday, the cabinet approved a 42-billion-baht package of financial aid for people and businesses affected by the partial lockdown, currently implemented in Bangkok and nine other provinces to contain the outbreak.

The measures included compensation for businesses and utility subsidies.

For the funding to finance the new compensation scheme, 30 billion is allocated from the government's loan decree for Covid-19 relief, while another 12 billion is from the government's budget.

The package was approved following strict Covid-19 control measures imposed on Monday in 10 provinces considered "dark red zones" in terms of the severity of the Covid-19 situation.

The provinces are Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla.

"We would like the government to expedite the consideration of additional measures to stimulate the economy as soon as possible to prevent a massive slowdown," said Mr Sanan, proposing the government reinstate the Rao Chana (We Win) financial aid scheme or increase cash handouts for the co-payment subsidy scheme from the existing 3,000 baht to 6,000 baht to boost people's purchasing power.

"Such effective measures should be immediately rolled out in the third quarter and extended until the fourth quarter to bolster the economy," he said.

Mr Sanan also suggested the government speed up readjustment of the Ying Chai Ying Dai e-voucher cashback scheme, in which terms and conditions were complicated and spending conditions did not meet the needs of the scheme's target group.

The cashback scheme should be transformed into a project similar to the Shop Dee Mee Khuen programme that offers a tax deduction for individual taxpayers of up to 30,000 baht when purchasing goods or services, he said.

For entrepreneurs, the chamber proposed the government support a 50% co-payment subsidy for the monthly salaries of employees, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises to help them maintain staff, in addition to reducing operation costs such as a signboard tax and extending a reduction in the land and building tax.

The government is being urged to provide principal guarantees for loans to help entrepreneurs more easily obtain financing from commercial banks, as well as improve the terms and conditions of existing measures to improve access to funding sources, such as the asset warehouse and soft loan schemes of the Bank of Thailand, said Mr Sanan.

He reiterated his call for the government to consider relaxing lending regulations so financial institutions can examine other factors other than credit reports from the National Credit Bureau when considering a loan application.

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