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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha tries his hand on an electric big bike before a mobile cabinet meeting in Sukhothai on Tuesday. The bike was a prototype made by students at Srisatchanalai Industrial and Community Education College in the central province. (Government House photo)

The cabinet has approved New Year’s gifts to people, ranging from free rice and discounted products to soft loans.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said his ministry would join hands with malls and manufacturers in cutting product prices by as much as 80% to Jan 4. Eligible goods are consumer products, consumables, electrical appliances and hampers. 

Franchise fairs will also be held and mobile vans will be sent out to sell discounted products during Jan 15-17.

“We hope to reduce people’s burden by 30% or 10 billion baht in total,” he said.

The Energy Ministry and PTT Plc will hand out half a kilogramme of rice to each motorist who refills his tank at 1,500 PTT pumps nationwide from Jan 1 until supply lasts.

“PTT would buy 65kg of rice from each farmer near its pumps at 35 baht a kg. We hope it would give them an additional income of 2,000 baht each,” said Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan.

He added for motorcyclists, only those wearing crash helmets were eligible.

For the Agriculture Ministry, Pracharat discount markets for farm produce will be held. Products will range from pork, chicken, eggs and vegetables to plants and seeds, said Minister Grisada Boonrach.

Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said state banks also had gifts for customers.

GH Bank would give a 1,000-baht cash rebate to good customers who owe not more than 1 million baht and repay their debts on time over the past 48 months. Some 165,000 customers are estimated to benefit from the measure.

Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will give a cashback equivalent to 30% of the interest paid in 2018 to some 2.3 million small debtors with outstanding debts of less than 300,000 baht each.

Registered low-income earners may also borrow up to 2 million baht from state banks at low interest rates to buy houses.

Those borrowing 1 million baht will be charged a fixed rate for the first four years and 2.75% in the fifth year. Those borrowing 1-2 million baht will be charged 3% a year. The measure is estimated to cost 30 billion baht in total.

Government officials can also borrow to buy houses without limit at MRR-3.75%, fixed for five years, but they must apply by Thursday. 

News Reporter

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