The Public Health Ministry has been allocated 4.66 billion baht from the government's central budget to help fight the new Covid-19 outbreak.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said the funds would enable the ministry to respond to the latest outbreak in a timely fashion. The central budget is set aside for the ministry's agencies tasked with battling the coronavirus.
About 2.1 billion baht will be allocated to buy medicines, medical equipment for labs and for health workers and volunteers, plus purchases of Covid-19 vaccines. The remaining 2.56 billion will cover risk allowance and overtime payments for volunteers and health personnel.
The allocation of funds acknowledges that health volunteers and medical personnel are on the front lines in the fight against Covid-19, which has now spread to 57 provinces amid the resurgence which began last month.
"The objectives are to protect the public, especially high-risk groups, from Covid-19, and to contain the new outbreak. This will also help reduce the impact on health and the economy," said Ms Traisuree.
She said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had strongly urged the ministry to speed up its efforts to curb the spread of the virus and ensure that procurement of vaccines was in line with regulations.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday assured health workers that they would be fully supported by the government and that the cabinet had already approved funds to finance its goals.
In parliament, the House committee on economic development wants the government to clarify how it intends to help businesses forced to close in the wake of the latest Covid-19 outbreak.
"The government did not use the word 'lockdown' in ordering businesses closed and activities restricted. We wonder whether the government deliberately avoided using the word to avoid paying compensation," said Phicharn Chaowapatanawong, an MP from the opposition Move Forward Party.
The committee will videoconference on Jan 14 to ascertain if the government has sufficient funds to compensate businesses forced to close temporarily and all those affected by the order, said Mr Phicharn, who is deputy chairman of the committee. It will also brainstorm solutions to people's economic problems resulting from the closure order.
He said the committee would invite deputy prime minister and chief of the government's economic team, Supattanapong Punmeechaow, and Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith to clarify the government's economic rehabilitation efforts as well as its budget for dealing with Covid-19.
Mr Phicharn added that the closure order had hit workers in restaurants and entertainment venues especially hard and he called on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and Mr Supattanapong to act responsibly and help those people out.
He also called on the PM to urgently help all those affected by Covid-19, citing Gen Prayut's own claim that the government had plenty in the bank to help them.
The government allocated 5,000 baht per month from April to June last year to temporary employees and self-employed workers hit by the economic shutdown.
Wallop Tangkananurak, a senator and chairman of its committee on social development and children, youth, women, senior citizens, the disabled and vulnerable groups, yesterday called on the government to expedite handouts to the elderly, the disabled and parents with newborns.
He also asked the government to increase the amount of the subsidy in the co-payment scheme from 3,500 to 5,000 baht per person and urged the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to work proactively to help those most vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the co-payment scheme, the government pays for 50% of food, drink and general goods purchases up to a maximum of 150 baht per person per day, capped at 3,000 baht per person for a specified duration.
The second phase of the scheme covers an additional five million people, with the amount of the subsidy raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht per person.