01/31/2019, 19.05
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Thailand wants rich seniors to help the neediest

Thailand’s Finance Ministry wants one million rich seniors to fund the living allowance of nine million poorer seniors. The basic allowance is 600 baht US$ 19.20). Government and banks are working together in this campaign, but only 800 people have heeded the government appeal so far.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Ministry of Finance of Thailand wants one million wealthy seniors to forgo their old-age living allowances in order to raise the minimum monthly allowance for the needy from 600 baht (US$ 19.20) to 800 baht (US$ 25.60).

To increase the living allowance for needy senior citizens to 1,000 baht (US$ 32) a month, two million people would have to relinquish their allowance, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said.

Despite the campaign through the banks to encourage the rich to give up their allowance, only 800 people heeded the minister’s appeal.

Thai Bankers' Association chairman Predee Daochai said that all commercial banks are involved in the campaign through their nationwide branches, 70,000 ATM terminals, Line and Facebook channels to lobby rich seniors to forgo their welfare allowance.

All Thai seniors are entitled to a progressive living allowance: 600 baht (US$ 19.20) for those aged 60-69, 700 baht (US$ 22.40) for aged 70-79, 800 baht US$ (US$ 25.60) for those aged 80-89, 1,000 baht (US$ 32) for those over 90.

Under the plan, wealthy seniors who want to forgo their allowance can do so at commercial or state banks. They can use the foregone allowance as a tax credit.

Those who apply between 1 February and 31 March 2019 will receive medals and certificates signed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The Finance Ministry wants Thais to maintain their standard of living even after retirement. According to estimates, 1,200-1,500 baht (US$ 38.40 to US$ 48) per month is the minimum amount the elderly need.

Initially, the government planned to allocate 2 per cent of the taxes on alcohol and tobacco to senior pensions. However, the 4 billion baht (US$ 128 million) raised was insufficient to offer needy pensioners 800 baht a month.

The Finance Ministry sends about 70 billion baht (US$ 2.2 billion) a year to nine million seniors, 4.6 million of whom also hold welfare smartcards

According to Finance Ministry data, three million seniors live in poverty and two million are homeless.

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