11 July 2024

Thailand’s Finance Ministry is considering an overhaul of the current ‘one size fits all’ state welfare system, replacing it with a more tailor made version which is more efficient in addressing poverty related issues.

A research study into an alternative welfare system, undertaken by economists at the Fiscal Policy Office, was presented at a seminar on Friday at the Finance Ministry.

The study advocates a bespoke welfare system which takes into account economic productivity and infrastructural readiness, which differ between regions.

For instance, the research study shows that the central and southern regions of the country are more productive with better infrastructure, compared to the northern and northeastern regions which lag behind.

It was pointed out during the seminar that the ‘one size fits all’ welfare system has not been effective in addressing poverty related problems, citing the case of Mae Hong Son province in the North where the population is among the poorest in the country, despite the fact that the state welfare system has been available for the past ten years.

It was proposed that the current welfare card project should be replaced with a welfare card ‘plus’ project to address the diverse needs of different groups of people in different regions.

Instead of 1,990 baht/year uniform welfare handouts for all card holders, it was proposed that, in certain provinces, holders should be provided with cash to cover their costs of living, such as power, water and travel expenses, while those in other provinces should be provided with training to improve their skills, such as in Phuket where they have both the highest income and the highest unemployment rate.

Fiscal Policy Office director, Mr. Lawan Saengsanit, told the seminar that the new ‘tailor made’ system might be applied when a new round of welfare card distribution is launched next year, worth some 60 billion baht.