Pheu Thai slams government’s aid package as populist move to woo voters

Pheu Thai Party has disputed Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s claim that his government’s 86.9 billion baht aid package to help the poor and pensioners is not part of its populist policy to win public support in the upcoming election.

The party slammed the aid package as a pre-election campaign to woo voters.

“Helping the poor is good as they deserve to be helped.  But there must be proper planning – not just throwing money around for the election,” said Phumtham Wechayachai, the party’s secretary-general, on Wednesday.

He said the aid package didn’t represent a real intention to solve problems of the poor and pensioners but a gimmick to win votes.   He claimed that previous governments would stay away from such spending with elections approaching.

Gen Prayut on Tuesday insisted that the aid package was part of the government’s policy to address the issue of poverty and urged the media and the public not to see it as a populist measure.

The injection of such a huge amount of money – 86,994 million baht – to help the poor who are holders of welfare cards and pensioners amounts to an admission by the government that its past efforts to solve the problem of poverty have failed, said Phumtham.

Under the aid package recently approved by the Cabinet, pensioners’s monthly allowance will be increased from 600 baht to 1,000 baht. About 14.5 million poor people who were issued with welfare cards will receive 230 baht a month as electricity allowance and 100-baht a month in water allowance from December until next September supposedly to ease their financial burden.

Dismissing the criticism, government spokesman Putthipong Punnakan insisted that the aid package had been thought out and planned for quite some time with public feedbacks and was not just rolled out to woo votes as suggested by its detractors.

The timing of the announcement of the aid package and the approaching election was just a coincidence and was not politically motivated, said Putthipong.



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