The government plans to allocate more than 11 billion baht to subsidise low-income earners for another four months to help with their power bills, starting in May.
However, the matter must be sent to the Election Commission (EC) for consideration before a final decision is made.
Speaking after Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Caretaker Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government is trying its best to address the problem of costly electricity bills for households.
"As for political parties promising to cut power tariff rates, they should know that there are reasons and necessities as well as complicated details regarding the issue," Gen Prayut said.
"Please trust in the government. We are trying our best," Gen Prayut said, adding that a budget allocation of more than 11 billion baht is needed.
The cabinet has signed off on the subsidy so the matter will now rest in the hands of the EC, he said.
A naval officer holds a child dressed in a sailor's uniform in front of the newly built HTMS 'Chang', which arrived at the Sattahip naval base from China on Tuesday. The new warship serving as a submarine tender will support HTMS 'Ang Thong' until the navy receives its S26T submarine order. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Under Section 169 of the constitution, a budget allocation for emergencies approved by an outgoing cabinet after a House dissolution must be endorsed by the poll agency first.
"I assure you that the government will ensure fairness to all sectors that play a role in energy management as the government cannot invest solely and needs investment from the private sector.
"Everything must be in line with the law. The Energy Ministry has sent contracts [made with the private sector to produce power] to public prosecutors to consider. Several contracts have existed for a long time," Gen Prayut said.
"We must be careful in spending the budget by focusing our attention on necessary targets. The government will do its best to look after vulnerable groups."
The government has already provided a 3.2-billion-baht subsidy for vulnerable groups -- such as low-income earners and households that consume fewer than 300 units of electricity per month from January to April. They get a cut-off from the fuel tariff (Ft) before the VAT calculation.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri fleshed out the subsidy plan, saying the power subsidy will be extended for another four months from May. It will apply to households that consume less than 300 units per month.
Those that consume 1-150 units a month will get a reduction of 92.04 satang per unit while those using 151-300 units will be given a reduction of 67.04 satang per unit, he said.
About 7.6 billion baht will be drawn from the 2023 budget for emergency purposes to finance the plan. About 18.36 million households will benefit.
Another way to help people with costly power bills is to give a reduction of 150 baht before VAT to households using no more than 500 units per month, valid for May only. The measure will need funds of no more than 3.5 billion baht from the 2023 budget, Mr Anucha said, adding that more than 23.4 million households will benefit.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will also start lowering the Ft next month following a recommendation by a subcommittee responsible for its calculation.
According to Khomgrich Tantravanich, secretary-general of the ERC, the new rate will result in a seven-satang reduction in the price of electricity, from 4.77 baht a unit to 4.70 baht.
Mr Khomgrich said the ERC's next move would be to issue the adjustment guidelines for Egat, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and the Provincial Electricity Authority ahead of next month's billing cycle.