Thailand: Budget limits bump against populist sops

  • Recipients of the government’s populist campaign promises could be restricted to state welfare smartcard holders because of budget constraints, says a source at the Finance Ministry’s think tank who requested anonymity.
  • Populist campaign promises, particularly for pregnant women, did not specify target recipients and the budget for such policies is tight, so the Finance Ministry needs to propose to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana to prioritise the underserved segments, the source said.
  • State welfare smartcard holders are below the poverty line and most deserve to benefit from the government’s campaign handouts, said a source at the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).
  • According to the PPRP’s election pledges, it will give a THB3,000 monthly allowance for nine months to pregnant women, a THB10,000 allowance for births, and a child allowance of THB2,000 a month for newborn children until six years of age, constituting THB181,000.
  • Dechapiwat Na Songkhla, director of the Budget Bureau, has said if the long-awaited 2020 budget expenditure framework of THB3.2tr, scheduled to seek the cabinet’s nod on 6 Aug 19, is not changed, a mere THB70-80bn will be left over for the government to make good on election promises.
  • The source at the FPO said the additional allowances provided by the previous government to state welfare recipients could be renewed after they lapse to alleviate low income-earners’ financial burden during the weak economy.

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