Key economics unit, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha, gave the green light on Wednesday for additional funding to run expanded social welfare schemes right up until March 31st 2021. The Tourism Authority has also extended support for domestic tourism offerings with subsidised flights, accommodation and weekday package holidays for the elderly up to April 30th 2021.
Thailand is expanding its social welfare programmes during the pandemic as part of the government’s strategy to deal with the ongoing economic crisis. This week, the government approved the extension of several programmes which will see up to 14 million Thais receive between ฿3,500 and ฿4,000 in monthly supports up to the end of the first quarter of 2021.
In a week where ministers and officials confirmed that foreign mass tourism would not be reopening until the end of next year at the earliest, and would not be returning to normal until 2024, the government’s economic coordination unit, the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA), approved an extension of several social welfare schemes targeted at Thailand’s less well off.
The committee chaired by Prime Minister Chan ocha on Wednesday approved ฿43.5 billion which will be disbursed from special funds set up by the government to allow for a 50% copayment scheme for goods across up to 900,000 shops in the kingdom with an extended ceiling of up to ฿3,500 per person.
Scheme where the government pays up to 50% on food, drinks and general merchandise at up to ฿150 per day to be extended until March 31st 2021
The government will make copayments of 50% on a range of products including food, drink and general necessities up to a daily limit of ฿150 per day. The first phase of the scheme begins at the end of October and will run until the end of the year.
The second phase, approved on Wednesday, will run from January 1st to March 31st with extra funding provided of ฿22.5 billion.
In addition, this week, the government allocated a further ฿21 billion for the social welfare card programme which will see 14 million poorer Thais receive a monthly allowance of ฿500 for three months until the end of March 2021. This scheme was launched and went into operation this September.
Already, it is reported that 10 million Thai people are benefitting from monthly income support payments.
Both schemes being offered to those in need and should see up to 14 million users avail of the supports
Danucha Pichayanan, the Secretary-General of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said this week that it is envisaged that the co-payment scheme will be expanded in 2021 to include an additional 5 million people.
Figures for the last few months show just over 9.5 million Thais benefiting from this system.
Thais availing of the scheme are handed special social welfare cards which are linked to the government’s growing database infrastructure which is a fundamental part of its Thailand 4.0 strategy to make government services and supports easier to access while also providing government policymakers with more accurate information on how to respond to the needs of the less well off.
Tourism subsidies now extended to 15 nights away and up to ฿3,000 on flights to popular resorts
The government is also recharging its domestic tourism support initiatives. These will see subsidies of up to 40% on airfares and accommodation in the ‘We Travel Together’ campaign which will see extended contributions for up to fifteen nights in hotels instead of ten as before.
The subsidy has also risen from ฿2,000 to ฿3,000 on flights to popular destinations such as Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Subsidies on cars, boats, dining and spas
The Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, last week, also highlighted that subsidies were also now available for car hire, pleasure boats, dining and health spa visits.
The tourism chief says that the scheme has been extended until April 30th from January 31st 2021.
He also drew attention to a special scheme aimed at the over 55s which allows a ฿5,000 contribution to holiday packages priced at no less than ฿12,500 and which will only apply to working days.
About the Author
Joseph O’ Connor is an expat from Ireland who has lived in Thailand for the last decade. He has worked extensively in the media including editorial positions in Ireland and Thailand. He is focused on economic and business stories in Thailand as well as the expat lifestyle. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.