Thai government today begins handing out 2,000-baht cheques to low-income earners nationwide as a short term measure out of its stimulus programmes to revive the country’s economy in midst of the global financial crisis.
The first lot of “Help-the-Nation” cheques will be given to those earning less than 15,000 baht a month and making contribution to the Social Security Fund, who have already registered to receive the one-time handouts from now till June.
During the official kick-off of the programme, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva presided over a ceremony in front of Bangkok’s City Hall and awarded the first of the government’s cheques to Kongjai Harnchai, an assistant teacher at a kindergarten in Bangkok’s Samsen area.
Thousands of the Social Security cardholders later lined up to get their cheques which could be cashed in at nearby counters of the Bangkok Bank, the cheque issuer on behalf of the government, or use them as cashier’s cheques to directly buy goods and services from 21 companies nationwide.
After launching the 19-billion-baht programme, Prime Minister Abhisit told reporters that the government expects the cheque handouts to help stimulate the country’s economy for a better standard living for low-income earners.
“The government does not want the recipients to spend the cheque on luxury items but to spend it in a way that would be of great benefit for their lives that would in turn help boost the country’s economy through buying Thai products and holidaying in Thailand,” the premier said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said the cash handouts would help boost the economic growth about 0.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and create about 80,000 jobs in line with the government’s stimulus package.
So far, about 7.5 out of 10.5 million people eligible to receive the 2,000-baht cheques have registered with the Social Security Office.
In addition to those insured with the Social Security Office, the Thai government has also planned to hand out similar 2,000-baht cheques to six other groups of people earning less than 15,000 baht a month. Among these groups are military recruits, teachers, state enterprise workers and the staff of public organisations.