Thai junta ap­proves US$358m cash hand­out for the poor

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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