Welfare scheme not for tycoons to line pockets, ministry says

The extension of Covid-19 relief has been carefully designed to support welfare-card holders, the Finance Ministry said Thursday, refuting accusations in social media that the latest round of measures was of most benefit to major corporations.

This week the cabinet approved a further 27-billion-baht budget to alleviate Covid-19 impact, including a subsidy on utilities and monthly credit of 200 and 300 baht for welfare cardholders to purchase goods from participating stores.

The move was followed by criticism including on the chatting and messaging app Line, which said that “relief packages through state welfare cards are like sweeping money from the government into the wallets of big tycoons as long as they own products,” according to the statement by the ministry.

The ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office said such texts are “misleading” and “misrepresented the program’s good intentions,” pointing out that items are sold in general stores, not necessarily from the major firms.

The state welfare card scheme has also enabled small shops to gain more income to withstand the economic downturn, the statement said.

Welfare-card holders are entitled to monthly subsidies to support living costs. There are currently 13.65 million holders of the card, which is granted according to criteria of annual income and assets per person of less than 100,000 baht.

In the coming months, the government plans to open a new round of state welfare card registration. All existing cardholders will be asked to register anew as additional requirements, such as family income, are added.

More information about the registration will be released by October, said Deputy Finance Minister Krisada Chinavicharana.

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