Govt extends subsidy and welfare plans

Govt extends subsidy and welfare plans

B43.5bn to boost economy, says PM

Welfare card holders are withdrawing money from an ATM in Buri Ram province last year. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)
Welfare card holders are withdrawing money from an ATM in Buri Ram province last year. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)

The government is earmarking 43.5 billion baht to stimulate the domestic economy through an extension of the co-payment scheme that subsidises 50% of food and goods purchased at small shops, as well as its state-sponsored welfare card programme for low-income earners. The 43.5 billion baht covers 22.5 billion baht to be allocated to the second phase of the co-payment scheme and 21 billion baht for the state welfare card programme.

The second phase of the co-payment scheme will use funds from the 400 billion baht designated for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure, while the welfare card programme will use funds from 500 billion baht loans slated to help people affected by the pandemic. The funding schemes won the green light of the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday.

Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said the second phase of the co-payment scheme will cover an additional five million people, with subsidies raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht per person.

The existing 10 million people who have already registered with the scheme will be eligible for an additional 500 baht.

The scheme for the additional five million people will be implemented between January and March of next year. The scheme will also extend the rights of the existing registered people to March of next year.

The first phase used 30 billion baht under the 400 billion baht. Currently, there were around 892,000 shops registered to join the scheme, and 9.56 million registered people, with a combined spending of 33.38 billion baht.

In the scheme, the government pays for 50% of food, drink and general goods purchases of up to 150 baht per person per day, capped at 3,000 baht per person for the duration of the scheme. The scheme started on Oct 23 and will end on Dec 31.

Mr Danucha said the centre also agreed to extend for another three months (January to March) the 500-baht monthly financial assistance given to 14 million low-income earners who have state welfare cards. The scheme was approved by the government in September.

According to Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the CESA also on Wednesday approved to improve the "We Travel Together" campaign, which subsidises 40% of hotel expenditure and airfares to make it more attractive to domestic visitors. Each registrant is allowed to enjoy 15 room nights, up from 10 room nights.

The air ticket subsidy is raised from 2,000 to 3,000 baht for those bound for Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. He said the campaign also covers car and boat rentals and spa visits in addition to food.

The campaign will be extended to April 30 next year from Jan 31. Mr Yuthasak said the CESA also approved to allow the tourism package via tour operators under the campaign to cover the elderly with the age of over 55 years old, but only on working days.

The package price is required to cost no less than 12,500 baht/head, while the government subsidises 5,000 baht per head to the elderly.

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