THE CABINET yesterday approved a Bt35.6-billion spending package as part of the second stage of the government’s poverty-reduction programme featuring job offers, vocational training, low-interest loans and personalised services for up to 4.9 million low-income people nationwide.
According to the government’s database, there are about 11 million Thais whose annual per capita income is less than Bt30,000. Instead of just handing out subsidy money to this target group, the second-stage programme aims to offer them jobs, provide skill-training, financial help and other pre-requisites to alleviate their poverty in a more sustainable style.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the second stage, which follows last year’s spending of nearly Bt20 billion for low-income earners, would be implemented jointly by the Finance, Agriculture, Interior, Environment and related ministries.
It is based on China’s poverty-reduction model in which both public and private sector organisations work together to tackle poverty.
According to Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, the second stage is driven by data gathered from low-income people |earlier registered with the government so that measures can be personalised to suit their needs, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the poverty-reduction efforts.
There are a total of 34 projects under the second-stage programme involving six ministries, three state-owned banks, two funds and two other state agencies, whose overall objective is to improve the quality of life of low-income earners. Local-level committees will be appointed to supervise personalised efforts in order to achieve the targets.
These local bodies will conduct interviews with each of the people and households currently registered in the government’s database so that personalised advice and measures can be tailor-made to suit their needs, with state officials functioning like account officers in the private sector.
Regarding job offers, the Labour Ministry is responsible for recommending both domestic and overseas jobs to prospective low-income people while the Commerce Ministry is implementing a mini-franchise system for those keen on doing small franchised businesses in their areas.
On vocational training, the Labour Ministry will hold courses to introduce new skills to qualified farmers and other low-income groups, while the Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will be responsible for increasing financial literacy among participants.
Regarding financial assistance, state-owned banks will provide small loans to street food vendors and those wanting to do other franchised businesses, among others.
In addition, education and housing loans will be offered as well as retirement saving programmes to ensure a reasonable quality of life for the registered participants. They will also be able to buy necessities at a subsidised price at government-designated stores nationwide.
Those whose annual income is still Bt30,000 or less towards the end of this year will also get an additional subsidy of Bt200 per month on top of the previous Bt300, while those whose annual income is Bt100,000 or less, will get an additional subsidy of Bt100 per month on top of the previous Bt200.
Employers are also entitled to financial incentives to provide vocational training to registered participants and will get an extra tax deduction on these expenses for the period January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019.