THE government yesterday kicked off the Thung Ngern Pracha Rat (Pracha Rat Money Bag) mobile application, which enables participating shops to use the service to accept payments for purchases by holders of state welfare cards.
In a speech in Bangkok on the launch of the mobile app, which comes under the broader Pracha Rat project for grassroots economic development, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the service would help people to increase their purchasing power.
It serves the needs of those who earn less than Bt100,000 a year, with around 11.4 million of them now registered for the welfare cards.
For the first stage, efforts had been focused on encouraging a sufficient number of shop owners to get on board and enable the project to get under way.
The premier rejected suggestions that the initiative is aimed at benefiting the major retailers.
The welfare card project has entered its second phase with a focus on providing skills training to the low-income earners.
It will increase the money made available in the cards from between Bt200 and Bt300 per person a month to Bt300-Bt500.
Prayut said at the event - in the Impact Muang Thong Thani complex - that the government wanted to boost the incomes of everyone, adding that when welfare recipients manage to move up the income ladder they would also become liable to pay tax.
Regarding the government’s plan for big investments in mega-projects, he said the state revenue could not stretch to cover all such projects, given the country’s low tax base.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, at the same event, said the ministry had joined with the Ministry of Finance and Krungthai Bank to develop the Thung Ngern Pracha Rat mobile app as a payment solution for the participating shops and the card holders.
The app comes as an alternative to the installation in the shops of an electronic data capture (EDC) device for payments under this Pracha Rat initiative, Sontirat said.
Some 20,000 shops have registered for use of the mobile app.
The ministry expects that at least 100,000 shops will be participating in the project within next two months, reaching 200,000 within four months.
Sontirat said that for the shops that have already installed EDC devices, they would receive support to engage in e-commerce operations.