Co-payment scheme may be extended
The Finance Ministry is looking at the possibility of rolling out a third phase of the "Khon La Khrueng" co-payment subsidy scheme which has been welcomed by consumers and small-scale traders.
Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says the government is awaiting an assessment of the first and second phases of the scheme which allows registered individuals who buy goods from local shops to pay only half the price of their purchases (of listed essential goods), with the government subsidising the other half.
With tourism and related industries hard hit by the pandemic, Mr Arkhom said the government needed to implement measures to stimulate retail spending and help keep the economy going.
He said spending in the second phase of the co-payment subsidy scheme, which started on Jan 1, has apparently not been disrupted by the new surge of Covid-19 infections which has forced many people to stay at home.
The ministry plans to open another round of registrations for the second phase late this month, as some registrants might not use the subsidy within the stipulated period. "We never say we will or won't do [the third phase]," said Mr Arkhom. "We have to consider if people have the purchasing power and will benefit from the scheme."
Under the co-payment scheme, the government pays half of food, drink and general goods purchases for up to 150 baht a person a day, capped at 3,000 baht per person for a specified duration. The amount is increased to 3,500 baht in the second phase and first-phase registrants get an additional 500 baht.
Mr Arkhom also said the ministry was working on criteria for people eligible to receive Covid-19 relief.
The cabinet on Tuesday agreed to two monthly payments of 3,500 baht, to ease people's hardship in the wake of the latest Covid-19 outbreak, and it is estimated that about 35 million people are qualified to receive the handouts. The ministry's proposal for how to roll out the payments will be submitted to the cabinet next week.