6 June 2024

Thailand’s Consumer Council (TCC) have voiced their opposition to the Interior Ministry’s recent change to rules on old age pensions and wants them to reinstate the old rules, under which all elderly people aged 60 and over who are not government officials or state enterprise employees are eligible to monthly cost of living allowance from 600 to 1,000 baht, depending on their age.

The TCC recently held a hearing for its members to express their opinions, all of whom disagreed with the Interior Ministry’s change of the rules, under which only elderly people who do not have an income or sufficient income to livewill be eligible for the pension.

The council said it will summarise the opinions and recommendations made by its members for submission to the cabinet, through its policy committee.

During the hearing, Assistant Professor Weerasak Putthasri, deputy secretary-general of the National Health Committee, said that they attach importance to employment and many elderly people are still capable of working and should be allowed to work and the pension should be universally accessible by all elderly people, aged 60 or older, no matter whether they have other income.

Dr. Katikar Tipayalai, of Chulalongkorn University, said that,as Thailand is a country with wide income gap and state welfare, in the form of a pension accessible to all elderly people, can help narrow that gap and improve their lives to a certain degree.

She suggested that the pension should actually be more than 3,000 baht a month, which is above the poverty line, adding that this amount of money is mostly spent on buying food, which would help stimulate the economy as well.

Dr. Katikar pointed out that the state is currently paying 80 billion baht a year in pensions for about 11 million elderly people, while it is spending 300 billion baht a year in pensions for some 800,000 retirees from the government and state enterprise sectors.

She also suggested that the government could follow the example of Japan, which increased value-added tax on luxury goods to fund the state pension scheme, adding that a 1% VAT increase would be expected to generate an additional 70 -100 billion baht in tax revenue for the state.

Saree Aongsomwang, TCC secretary-general, said that most council members concurred that the state should provide each retiree with 3,000-baht per month, regardless of whether they have other income.