TDRI predicts coronavirus may push Thailand’s poor 18.9 million
A researcher at Thailand’s economic think-tank, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), has predicted that the number of poor people in Thailand might grow three-fold to about 18.9 million if the COVID-19 pandemic drags on for another six to twelve months.
Isranews Agency reports that Mr. Somchai Jitsuchon, research director of general development at the TDRI, said that his forecast is based on the data on earnings and distribution of revenue in the Thai population in 2018, which is close to the 2019 data.
The data show that the earnings of 40% of the lower income sector of the Thai population for 2019 did not differ significantly from those in 2018 and, if the earnings of this group were cut by 10-30%, the proportion of the population who are classified as poor would increase to between 14.3% and 28.4%, or between 9.5 million and 18.9 million people.
Mr. Somchai said that, for the time being, it is not known for certain how much income will be lost by people affected by business closures, because no one can say for sure how long the pandemic will drag on. If it lasts six months up to one year, the incomes of the lowest earning 40% would be cut by about 30%.
He also said that he disagrees with the use of occupation as a benchmark for deciding who qualifies for the 5,000 baht monthly subsidy. He suggested that eligibility should be based on the ownership of land and other assets, as was the case in the issuance of welfare cards. He said that an individual who owns more than three million baht in property should not qualify and that this would reduce the number of the eligible to only 8-9 million people.