Former premier champions welfare state idea

Former premier champions welfare state idea

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has criticised the government for what he sees as lack of improvement in people's livelihoods despite public expectations to have a solid welfare system in the kingdom.

Mr Abhisit made the comment during a seminar on socio-economic issues yesterday.

The former premier told attendees the socio-economic gap is widening, and the government needs to improve its policies to address issues and improve the people's quality of life.

He said that to build a welfare state, policymakers will have to see a social welfare net as a basic right, not a form of assistance, adding tax reform policies are also key to bringing in more revenue for the state.

"The country's leaders need to change their attitude and embrace the principles of a welfare state," Mr Abhisit said.

He said the government should make use of the data it has been collecting through various methods to formulate policies that respond to the people's needs.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a co-founder of the Progressive Movement, present at the seminar yesterday, said creating a welfare state is possible, but the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha does not have the heart to implement some social policies.

Mr Thanathorn said the government's "lack of budget" response to the question of the implementation of additional welfare policies is a "lame excuse."

If the government streamlines budget management and recalls "off-budget" funds given to several state agencies, it can build a welfare state and narrow the social gap.

Mr Thanathorn, who was recently appointed as a member of a special House committee to examine the 20201 fiscal year budget bill, said the off-budget funds were estimated at four trillion baht.

The seminar was organised by We Fair, a group advocating turning Thailand into a welfare state.

The group released a study into public opinion on the welfare system and social policies.

According to the group, the government failed every policy, receiving a score of five on a scale of one to 10.

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