Elderly allowance scheme raises financial accessibility concerns in Thailand

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In a bid to ease the strain on government finances, a transition from universal welfare payments to a stringent elderly allowance scheme has been initiated. This shift has been met with substantiated criticism, although the authorities maintain the necessity of the move, justifying it as a responsive adaptation to cope with Thailand’s rapidly ageing populace.

In yesterday’s internal meeting of the Cabinet, a primary concern voiced by critics suggested that the new elderly allowance scheme criteria could potentially limit access to vital financial support for the older demographic. However, the risk was swiftly addressed by Natjaree Ananthasilp, the spokesperson of the Cabinet.

Detailing further, the minister for Social Development and Human Security, Juti Krairiksh, pointed out that under the previous regulations, the government would face an annual expense approaching 100 billion baht by the year 2025. He underlined the unavoidable fact of additional costs tied to the growing number of senior citizens in Thailand.

The revamped elderly allowance scheme regulation, now duly signed by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and enacted over the weekend, outlines a stipulated monthly allowance by local administrative bodies to elderly individuals under certain conditions. The new ruling states that only those aged above 60, with no income sources or inadequate finances to fulfil the cost of living, will be entitled to state assistance.

In an apparent bid to moderate the sudden shift, a clause has been included in the new rules detailing that registrations for allowances made before August 12, will not be impacted by the amendments. Hence, the elderly already on the payroll will continue to receive their allowances as before.

Ensuring adherence to the national committee on the elderly’s advice, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha endorsed the new scheme. Highlighting the need for a balanced budget allocation, he called for consideration of the available funds and the increasing count of pensioners in the sector.

“The number of senior citizens is increasing. Some have enough money to live on, but others don’t. So, we have to consider how much money is at our disposal.”

Juti affirmed that for the future government, a dedicated committee will scrutinise the elderly allowance mechanism in finer detail before wholly adopting the refined measures.

“Currently, there are about four million poor senior citizens. With limited budget funds, the government has to help the poor first.”

He also disclosed that his Ministry of Social Development and Human Security operates with an annual budget limit of 8 billion baht, reported Bangkok Post.

The minister warned that if the incoming government aims to provide a monthly allowance of 3,000 baht as per the commitments made by the Move Forward Party during their campaign, there will be a need to increase taxes to fund the elderly allowance scheme policy.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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