One-third of adult Thai citizens applied for welfare

PHOTO: One-third of all adults in Thailand applied for a state welfare card this round of registration.

Applications for welfare have seen a huge jump, with 22 million Thai people requesting a state welfare card in the latest round of registration. That massive figure equates to about one-third of the entire adult population of Thailand. It is a huge jump from the current 13.5 million people now carrying welfare cards in the country.

The figures come after the end of the last registration period in October. Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat reported the numbers and said that many applying for welfare are likely the result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic hardship that it brought over the last few years.

The deputy minister was not shocked by the unusually high number of applicants for welfare. He says that a large percentage of the people who applied were likely from vulnerable groups like those who suffer from chronic illness or may even be bedridden. Another big chunk of applicants may have just not been prepared for the drawn-out economic drop of the pandemic.

The 22 million applicants do not mean that there will be 22 million people added to the state welfare programme this year though. Those who requested the card will still have to go through a thorough vetting with over 40 state agencies examining their eligibility for the programme.

The 13.5 million people on state welfare currently are all required to re-register every time there is a new application round. The minister says that the qualification process is getting more stringent each year. He expects that as the economy slowly recovers from the pandemic, the number of applications for welfare will abate in sync.

To qualify for state welfare, an applicant must be a Thai citizen that is 18 years or older. Their salary must be less than 100,000 baht per person per year, or about 8,300 baht a month. Household income must also average below 100,000 baht per person per year. So a person earning a low wage but living with family members earning well above the poverty line would not qualify.

The benefits provided are fairly minimal. People earning less than 30,000 baht per year – that’s just 2,500 baht per month – will be given an extra 300 baht per month. Those earning more than 30,000 but less than 100,000 baht will receive 200 baht per month. Welfare recipients can also receive up to 500 baht per month for public transportation costs.

The deputy finance minister acknowledged that nobody wants to be living in poverty and need state welfare. Bangkok Post reports that he said the government would look into the possibility of increased benefits for welfare recipients in the future.

Economy NewsThailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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