The government will focus on providing skills training and job creation to low-income earners in the second phase of its welfare and subsidy scheme for the poor, which will be tabled to the cabinet on Tuesday for approval.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the second round of assistance would invite state agencies to come up with models for skill training and job creation for low-income earners.

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), for example, must find ways to boost farming skills for farmers, while the Labour Ministry has to come up with labour skill development for labourers, he said.

The BAAC has earmarked 95 billion baht to finance the second-phase scheme, according to Apirom Sukprasert, the bank president.

The Finance Ministry will forward the details of the plan to the cabinet on Tuesday for approval, and the scheme is likely to get under way from March, the deputy premier said.

The ministries of agriculture and cooperative, labour and interior would come together to assist registered low-income earners to find jobs and make more earnings. They include those who make less than 30,000 baht a year and this group which will be given priority in receiving assistance.

“The objective of the second-phase scheme is not necessarily to offer everything for free,” said Mr Somkid, adding it involves ideas to develop labour skills programmes for these people.

The provincial agriculture officials and governors must work together to encourage farmers into a skill enhancement programme which would lay down a management plan for farming, which involves advising what farm products should be produced in what areas, he said, adding more farmers should become technology-assisted “smart” farmers.

According to Mr Somkid, people who earn less than 30,000 baht a year — the threshold for the poverty line — number 3.96 million, one million of whom are farmers who borrowed money from the BAAC.

He also said he had assigned the BAAC to ensure farmers have more access to capital. Farmers are currently charged 7% interest rate for loan, as apposed to 5% for the business sector, the deputy premier said, adding the BAAC should consider lowering the interest rate for farmers.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Luck Wajananawat said the budget has been allocated to help the 3.96 million farmers.

After the cabinet approves the scheme, ministry officials will be deployed to implement career development for farmers. Officials will survey farmers’ debt situation and design plans for debt repayment.

Low-income people registered in July and August of 2016 for government aid that shifts to phase 2 this week, emphasising job creation. (Post Today file photo)

Mr Luck said the government will set up a national operation centre to tackle poverty, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The centre will have a steering committee, which is headed by the Finance Ministry’s permanent secretary. At the provincial level, governors and finance officials would work together. Under the first phase, which was approved by the cabinet on Aug 29, the government transferred 200-300 baht a month to poor people who spent the money using welfare smart cards.

News Reporter

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