11 July 2024

Thailand’s Government can afford to make only the April payment of the 5,000 baht cash hardship subsidies to nine million freelancers, self-employed, small retailers and employees not covered by the social security scheme.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told a news conference today that the Government will use residual budget in the Central Fund, estimated at about 50 billion baht, which will cover one payment.

He said that, initially, the Government decided to provide the cash to just three million people but, after hearing complaints from more people about their hardship, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government decided to extend the subsidy to cover six million more claimants.

For the 11 million employees covered by the social security scheme, who are also eligible for the 5,000 baht, he said that the Government will use 200-300 billion baht from the Social Security Fund.

For about 17 million people classified as farmers, the Prime Minister said that his Government will try to secure funding from various financial sources to fund the subsidy for the month of April only.

For the next payments, he said that everyone will have to wait 2-3 months, until the Government can secure a one trillion baht loan, adding that this loan will not be extended as a lump sum, but in several tranches.

“The one trillion baht loan is just numbers on paper. The Government doesn’t have a single baht and several people have started dividing up the money already,” said the Prime Minister.

He also dismissed an earlier report that the Government might provide up to six 5,000 baht payments, noting that the business sector affected by the pandemic has to be taken care of as well.

In addition to the 5,000 baht cash subsidy, he said that the Government had provided other forms of financial assistance to the people, such as a refund for electricity meters, electricity and water fee cuts and debt suspension.

Seeking understanding from the public, the Prime Minister said that the Government must be cautious about spending money “because there are people who are watching and waiting to take legal action.”

He said that, if the Government was rich enough, it would have given money to everyone at the same time “but it cannot be done.”