Prime Minister puts cash hand-outs on hold

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha announced to reporters on Monday that a cash hand-outs scheme, which was set to be announced at the cabinet on Tuesday, would be put on hold, after receiving heavy criticism over the scheme.

The plan involved a cash hand-out of 1,000 baht per month to low-income citizens and farmers for a period of two months. Around 14 million people were expected to be eligible for the hand-outs. 

The prime minister, as the head of the economic cabinet, approved these measures at its meeting last Friday. However, he doubled back on Monday when he told reporters that the cash hand-outs would not happen.

“The 1,000 baht hand-outs for two months are not going to happen, that can wait. But today I talked to the Ministry of Energy about giving back the insurance fee for electric meters, which is about 3,000 baht per meter. The state will give that back directly,” he said.

Prime Minister Prayut said all households, except large businesses, would receive the money. However, only house owners will be eligible to receive the insurance fee refund, while the cash hand-outs will be put on hold until the government can calculate exactly how much will the scheme cost the central government budget.

He said that other measures that had been approved by the economic cabinet would be proposed at main cabinet meeting on Tuesday. These include a soft-loan policy through the Government Savings Bank (GSB), which will provide loans to other financial institutions with an interest rate of 0.01 per cent. The financial institutions can then offer the loans to businesses at no more than 2 per cent interest rate. 

There is also a plan to ask financial institutions to temporarily suspend principle payment, tax reductions, and other tax breaks for both performing and non-performing loans (NPLs). The lowering of rental prices for private businesses on state property and the reduction of utility bills for everyone is also being considered by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Energy.

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