Gen Prayut Chan-ocha’s Cabinet Approves 35.7 Billion Baht for Second Phase of Junta’s Welfare Scheme

Gen Prayut Chan-ocha’s Cabinet Approves 35.7 Billion Baht for Second Phase of Junta’s Welfare Scheme
Prayut’s cabinet has approved 35.7 billion baht for the second phase of the welfare program for low-income earners.

BANGKOK –  Gen Prayut Chan-ocha’s cabinet has approved 35.7 billion baht for the second phase of the welfare Scheme for low-income earners, which should help bring 1 million people above the poverty line this year.

Of the 11.4 million registered low-income earners, 5.3 million live under the poverty line or earn less than 30,000 baht a year, according to Pornchai Theeravet, a financial adviser at the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

Of the 3.57 billion baht approved for the second phase on Tuesday, 1.39 billion will go to increasing the monthly allowances for members by 100 and 200 baht from 200 and 300 baht in the first phase. The value will be added to their smart-cards and spent on groceries at Blue Flag shops.

Another 1.88 billion baht will finance projects aimed at upgrading the quality of life and job training while the remaining 3 billion baht goes to administration.

The second phase, which focuses on job training and skill improvements, is voluntary and members who join will get the extra allowances. However, they must sign a disclosure agreement allowing authorities to check their bank accounts to evaluate the progress of the measures.

The government will assign account officers to look after them and provide training. Around 2.4 million members can be trained this year, he said.

A credit line for 2.1 million people will also be provided by the Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives for those seeking to start a business. For jobs, the private sector has 110,000 openings locally and 7,000 abroad.

The first phase of the welfare project, which began last year, cost 41.9 billion baht. It subsidizes the costs of groceries and transport for the members.

Gen Prayut Chan-ocha’s military has been running Thailand since the May 2014 coup when it ousted the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, ending years of political turmoil, including pro- and anti-government street protests.

After seizing power the generals drafted a new charter that curbs the power of elected politicians and calls for a fully appointed upper house, with several spots reserved for military leaders.

The junta has further enshrined its governmental role by declaring that any future administration must adhere to its “legally binding 20-year-plan” for the country.

The 2014 coup saw some Western countries downgrade ties with Bangkok. Earlier this month, the European Union said it would resume political contact “at all levels” with Thailand, that announcement came after Prayuth said a general election would he held next November 2018.
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