Thai junta approves US$358m cash handout for the poor
THAILAND’S military leaders yesterday announced US$358 million in cash handouts for some of the kingdom’s poorest people, a surprise giveaway from a junta that decried subsidies by the civilian government it toppled.
The move comes as Yingluck Shinawatra, whose democratically elected administration was kicked out in a 2014 coup, faces up to a decade in jail over a generous rice subsidy aimed at the rural poor.
Since seizing power junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha has railed against the rice scheme, which cost Thailand billions of dollars, and vowed to end Thailand’s culture of “populist” government subsidies.
But in its latest sop to an increasingly hard-up public, Mr Prayut said $358 million in cash would be released next month.
Those earning under 30,000 baht ($845) a year will receive a 3000 baht handout while those earning between 30,000-100,000 baht will receive 1500 baht.
Farmers are not included because they had already received financial help, he added.
Although Thailand’s economy has picked up since the military took power in the coup – with a forecast growth rate of 3.2 percent this year – high household debt, weakening exports, slumping foreign investment and low consumer confidence crimp what was once one of the region’s most vibrant economies. –