State readies B350bn in aid for informal workers, farmers
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State readies B350bn in aid for informal workers, farmers

The government estimates it will spend 350 billion baht for cash relief payments to 25 million informal workers and farmers, says Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana.

The preliminary forecast assumes that 15 million self-employed workers and 10 million farming households are given a monthly stipend of 5,000 baht.

Mr Uttama said it's too early to decide whether the government will extend the monthly subsidy for another three months after payments to virus-hit self-employed workers end in June. The government needs more time to monitor the situation, he said.

The 5,000-baht cash handout scheme for temporary workers, contract employees and self-employed workers who are not covered by the Social Security Fund's Section 33 is aimed at throwing a lifeline to them after the government's containment measures disrupted business on a wide scale and caused many to lose jobs or income.

A royal decree on 1 trillion baht in borrowing is the main funding source for the monthly freebie given to farming households and self-employed workers.

Of the total, 550 billion baht is for financial aid for affected informal workers and farmers, 45 billion baht is for healthcare-related expenditure, and the remaining 400 billion baht is for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure.

After taking out 350 billion baht for the cash giveaways to informal employees and farmers, the 200 billion baht left over will be used to finance a fund to help small entrepreneurs who are unable to access financial institutions' loans and take care of vulnerable groups, Mr Uttama said, adding that the size of the fund will be tens of billions of baht.

The government's implemented measures have covered 35-36 million people, of whom 10-11 million are under the Social Security Fund, 15 million are informal workers and 10 million are in farming households.

Mr Uttama said the Finance Ministry yesterday closed the complaint site at the Public Relations Department for applicants who failed to receive the 5,000-baht handout. Krungthai Bank, Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will continue the task, starting from May 18.

There were as many as 28.8 million registrants, but 4.4 million repeat applicants had to be removed. Of the 22.3 million applicants who passed the ID authentication process, 16 million were either approved to receive the subsidy or are in the final screening process, and the remaining 6.3 million were rejected.

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