The cabinet yesterday approved 35.67 billion baht for the second phase of the welfare and subsidy scheme for the poor, aiming to help about 1 million people cross the poverty line this year.

Pornchai Thiraveja, an adviser to the Fiscal Policy Office, said 5.3 million out of the 11.4 million recipients of the government’s welfare and subsidy scheme are living below the national poverty line, earning less than 30,000 baht a year.

Last August, the cabinet approved the first phase of the aid package, worth 41.9 billion baht, for 11.7 million low-income earners — 5 million of whom have income below the poverty line.

Under the scheme, the government transfers 200-300 baht a month to each welfare smart card. Recipients earning less than 30,000 baht a year get a monthly allowance of 300 baht, while those with annual earnings of 30,000-100,000 baht receive 200 baht to buy discounted goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and other designated stores.

Each cardholder also receives 1,500 baht a month to subsidise transport and 500 baht for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains, and local public buses and electric trains.

Under the second phase of the government’s welfare and subsidy scheme, aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty, the government will allocate a combined 35.67 billion baht to finance 34 projects that aim to raise income of low-income earners. It also offers tax incentives to attract private companies to organise training for, or hire, low income earners.

For the second phase, the government will also offer each recipient monthly allowances of 100 to 200 baht to buy goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops, on top of 200-300 baht for those who volunteer to join training.

Some 13.9 billion is required to fund the additional monthly allowance, 18.8 billion baht for skill training projects and another 3 billion as management budget to process the projects, according to Mr Pornchai.

Volunteers must disclose financial information on a monthly basis so state officials can monitor their progress.

The skill training programmes are expected to be able to serve 2.4 million people this year.

Mr Pornchai said 110,000 domestic and 7,000 overseas jobs are available for the poor.

Nathporn Chatusripitak, spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said the cabinet also cleared the Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to provide 110 billion baht worth of soft loans to finance projects under the second phase.

The projects eligible for the banks’ soft loans are mostly job training programmes to upgrade skills of low-income earners, irrigation system and water supply projects that hire low-income earners, job creation programmes, farm crop cultivation switch, community enterprises and debt restructuring.

News Reporter

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