Cabinet approves handouts, cuts power bills

Cabinet approves handouts, cuts power bills

Fiscal package to boost liquidity, offset Covid-19's impact

People take rice from a donations cupboard at the provincial hall in Surat Thani on Sunday. On Tuesday the cabinet approved a package of fiscal measures to cut the cost of living and boost liquidity in the system. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)
People take rice from a donations cupboard at the provincial hall in Surat Thani on Sunday. On Tuesday the cabinet approved a package of fiscal measures to cut the cost of living and boost liquidity in the system. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

The cabinet on Tuesday agreed to reduce electricity and tap water charges, a handout of 7,000 baht over two months to needy people, and provide soft loans to eligible businesses.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after the cabinet meeting the measures were  intended to help cut the cost of living and increase liquidity, and ease the impact of the new wave of novel coronavirus infections.

The Finance Ministry would work out the details of the cash handout - which would be in the form of 3,500 baht a month for two months. Other financial assistance would also be over two months. Informal workers, freelancers and farmers would be included.

Electricity and tap water charges would be reduced for February and March.

Each household with electricity consumption up to 150 units a month would get the first 90 units for free. There would be discounts for those using more than 150 units a month.

Tap water fees would be cut by 10%, for households and small enterprises.

Internet usage fees would be reduced and internet speeds boosted to support work from home.

The 90% reduction in land and building taxes and the reduced 0.01% fee for property transfers and mortgages would be extended.

The government would reopen its co-payment consumption subsidy scheme later this month, for 1 million people. The 1 million rights were unused from the two previous rounds of registration.

Soft loans would be arranged to boost liquidity, for eligible people and businesses. The government had allocated 200 billion baht for this.

The Government Savings Bank would lend 10,000-15,000 baht to each debtor, at interest of 0.1-0.35% a month, the prime minister said.

Gen Prayut said the government had enough money to support the new Covid-related financial measures.

About 490 billion baht remained from the Finance Ministry's 1-trillion-baht borrowing project to cope with Covid-19's impact, and about 130 billion baht from the government's contingency fund could also be used for this purpose, the prime minister said.

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