Govt urged to provide pensions

Govt urged to provide pensions

A civil society group yesterday urged the government to provide welfare for all and universal pension coverage to reduce economic inequality deepened by the Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Nimit Thian-udom, a representative of the Welfare Watch Network, said the Covid-19 crisis has worsened the long-standing problem of inequality in society, with those affected struggling to gain access to the government's relief measures.

"We call on the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration to provide short- and long-term assistance and welfare for all. We want Prime Minister Prayut to approve the draft national pension act so that it will be enacted as a law," said Mr Nimit.

The draft national pension act advocating the idea of a universal pension in Thailand had been endorsed by over 14,000 people in a law proposal to the government. It was submitted to the prime minister in March this year.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Decharut Sukkumnoed, a lecturer at Kasetsart University, on relief measures found almost all respondents, or 90%, had been affected by the pandemic, with most only having financial reserves capable of lasting one month. Even those earning 30,000–50,000 baht a month said they had enough spare money to last one to three months.

A third of the respondents said their income had dropped by 75% due to the outbreak. When asked what they had done to get by during this period, 25% said they borrowed from financial institutions, 22.8% sold or pawned their assets, 13.5% borrowed from relatives and 7.5% took out informal loans. The respondents who had been made redundant said they were unsure when they would find a new job.

Regarding the government's aid measures, a majority of respondents (47%) said they had benefited from the reduction of water and power bills the most. A total of 37% said they had received the 5,000-baht cash payout.

The academic noted that the government's online screening system for the welfare scheme had prevented many people who were in real trouble from gaining access to the relief.

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