Thailand to give US$4.6bil cash handout to farming households


  • Thailand
  • Tuesday, 28 Apr 2020

A vendor wearing a face mask is driven by a tuk-tuk, or auto rickshaw, with vegetables for sale at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday (April 28). A month-long state of emergency remains enforced in Thailand to allow its government to impose stricter measures to control the coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in the South-East Asian country. - AP

BANGKOK: Thailand plans to pay 10 million farming households a cash handout of 15,000 baht (US$462) at a cost of US$4.6bil, in its latest effort to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The funds will come from already planned borrowing of 1 trillion baht for stimulus to counteract a sharp economic slowdown, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said in a briefing in Bangkok on Tuesday (April 16).

The money will be disbursed over three months starting in May, she said.

Thailand earlier rolled out a separate cash handout program for people not covered by the social security fund.

That policy is being widened to cover 16 million people, from 14 million, at a cost of 240 billion baht, the government said.

Thailand so far has committed to spending 390 billion baht -- or US$12bil -- on cash giveaways.

That’s equivalent to 2.4% of its estimated gross domestic product of US$505 billion in 2018, based on World Bank data.

Citigroup Inc has said in a note that handouts could provide "quick support” for consumption.

Almost 30 million people in the nation of 69 million have applied under the existing cash programme, but many failed to qualify.

In a sign of the desperation sparked by the economic crisis, a woman drank rat poison in a suicide attempt near the Finance Ministry after failing to get the funds.

She is being treated in hospital and was subsequently found to be eligible, according to a statement from the Palang Pracharath party, which is part of the ruling coalition.

The Bank of Thailand forecasts a 5.3% contraction in the economy this year, the worst since the late 1990s.

The country’s overall stimulus package is worth about 11% of gross domestic product, on some estimates.- Bloomberg
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