SSO mulls new social net plan for subscribers

SSO mulls new social net plan for subscribers

The Social Security Office (SSO) is considering extending low-interest loans to registered workers dealing with financial uncertainty posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pitsamai Nithipaiboon, deputy secretary-general of the office, said a loan scheme is being planned after calls were made by subscribers of the Social Security Fund (SSF) who want to draw money from retirement funds to alleviate economic hardship.

Ms Pitsamai said social security laws do not allow SSF members to withdraw money from the funds, and amending regulations would take time to conduct.

The SSO low-interest loan scheme is expected to help instead.

"One possibility is the SSF may provide low-interest loans to insured workers," Ms Pitsamai said. "Currently, the SSO allows employers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak to obtain low-interest loans. Many [companies] have applied."

As for the call by SSF subscribers, she said the idea can be considered, but retirement funds are meant to ensure financial security in the future.

Under the rules, subscribers who contribute to their retirement fund for 180 months will receive a monthly allowance after retirement while those who contribute for less than 180 months will get a one-time payment.

Ms Pitsamai warned that if withdrawing retirement money was allowed, many subscribers would tap into their funds, causing them to dwindle, which will affect pension payments when they are due.

The SSF has assets worth about 2 trillion baht, 78% of which is in securities and the rest invested in high-risk investments.

"The SSO is studying the social security system and the use of the retirement fund in other countries to see what can be done," Ms Pitsamai said. "We're listening to the calls."

In addition, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has launched an interest-free lending scheme without any guarantor or surety for people with disabilities and their caregivers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thanaporn Promsuwan, chief of the department, said eligible applicants can receive a maximum of 10,000 baht under a five-year repayment scheme and they can apply to do so until the end of September.

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