Thailand’s cabinet gave initial approval today for a stimulus package of 225 billion baht to provide low-income groups relief from the devastating third wave of Covid-19. The plan to invest nearly a quarter of a trillion baht into financial stimulation measures passed its initial stage today and will be reviewed and voted on within the next few weeks according to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The package would include a 1-month extension of 2 programs that provide cash to those most in need. The cost of this extension is about 85.5 billion baht. The proposal also includes spending for co-payment and e-voucher programs and additional cash offerings to card-holding welfare recipients and other special groups. The investment of 140 billion for those programs is expected to be a stimulus for domestic consumption according to government officials.
The third wave of Covid-19 has seen drastically more infections, hospitalisations, and death than the first two waves in Thailand. Covid-19 infections and deaths more than doubled since the beginning of last month. This, in addition to a painfully slow vaccination rollout, leaves the original date of July 1st to begin no-quarantine reopenings in select tourist sandbox areas of Thailand in doubt. For a country heavily reliant on tourism this delay spells economic disaster. People need stimulus aid to cope with Covid-19 and the business and travel sectors have seen several control measures implemented.
Among the steps being taken to try to bolster the struggling economy are the Bank of Thailand announcing today that the decision to keep the record low interest rates to support economic recovery was a unanimous vote. PM Prayut also announced plans for a second phase of relief measures in the second half of the year when hopefully the coronavirus outbreak is contained. The planned implementation of Covid-19 stimulus is expected to generate 473 billion baht of economic growth and aid 51 million Thai people.
Apart from the 225 billion baht stimulus package, other Covid-19 money discussed in today’s cabinet meeting included 20 billion baht of loans from state-owned banks with low-interest rates, and a Health Ministry budget of 12.6 billion baht to deal with the third wave of Covid-19 infections. Measures were also passed to extend grace periods for loans from state-owned banks, extend tax incentives until the end of the year for companies hiring former prisoners, and cut water and electricity rates for the majority of customers throughout May and June.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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