CHIANG RAI – Thailand’s Military imposed Cabinet this week approved measures to help the elderly, including a tax break for firms hiring them, in a bid to ease the burden on the government as the population ages.
Thailandâ€™s 68 million people are ageing at one of the fastest rates in South-east Asia, with the working-age population expected to shrink by 11 per cent by 2040.
The military government has allocated 287 billion baht (S$11.4 billion) for pension-related schemes in the current fiscal year, and the amount is expected to rise to 698 billion baht by 2024, Mr Kobsak Pootrakool, Vice-Minister at the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office, told reporters.
â€œThese measures are necessary in order to reduce government spending and help people to have enough income after retirement,â€ he said.
Companies hiring people at the age of 60 or above will be allowed to have a double tax deduction on wages paid to elderly employees who earn up to 15,000 baht a month, Mr Kobsak said.
But firms can only employ elderly people up to 10 per cent of their workforce, he said.
Currently, about 94,000 people over 60 are still working, Mr Kobsak said, adding that at least 20 per cent of Thailandâ€™s population would be over 60 in 2025.
Businesses have been urged to hire more elderly Thais. With a monthly pension of 600-1,000 baht a month, most of them have no choice but to keep working.
The measures include 4 billion baht in loans for developers of â€œsenior complexâ€ projects for the elderly, as well as a reverse-mortgage scheme allowing elderly homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes, with no repayments needed until the borrowers die or the homes are sold.
The senior complexes would be built in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Nakhon Nayok provinces, the Bangkok Post reported.
Such residences would be erected on state-owned land, equipped with facilities for old peopleâ€™s conveniences and safety, and manned with medical personnel to take care of the residents.
The reverse mortgage scheme would allow senior citizens aged 60 or more to pledge their debt-free residences as collateral and in return receive a lump sum or regular sums of the loan until they die or their loan contracts expire.
The loan sizes would depend on the debtorâ€™s age, the value of his properties, and interest rates.