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Thailand to hand out $1.6B for poor, tourism

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Tourists bask in the sun on the Maya Bay beach, on the southern Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, in April. LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/afp

Thailand to hand out $1.6B for poor, tourism

The Thai government plans to spend 50 billion baht ($1.62 billion) to stimulate the economy by handing out 1,000 baht cash to each of the registered poor and 1,500 baht to members of the public to spend while visiting other provinces, a source said.

The source from Thailand’s Government House said the stimulus package would be submitted for Cabinet deliberation either at this week’s or next week’s meeting.

The source said the government plans to spend some 20 billion baht to stimulate the economy by giving an extra 1,000 baht for each state welfare card holder to spend. The government has earlier allowed low-income people to register to receive a monthly allowance that is remitted to their accounts and can be used for buying monthly necessities and for travelling costs.

The source said the extra 20 billion baht is aimed at alleviating economic hardship and that the money would revive the economy at the grassroots level.

The source said the government also plans to spend 15 billion baht to stimulate tourism by allowing each Thai, who is at least 18 years old, to receive a 1,500 baht subsidy to spend visiting a province.

The source said tourists must stay at hotels or resorts registered for the project and these venues would be allowed to reimburse 1,500 baht to each tourist staying there. Visitors would have to pay any additional costs themselves.

The source said the government believes the measure will stimulate domestic tourism.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yutthasak Supasorn confirmed that the government was aiming to stimulate domestic tourism by allowing Thai citizens, who are at least 18 years old, to be eligible for 1,500 baht subsidy each for visiting second-tier tourism provinces.

Yutthasak said that 55 provinces are classified as second-tier tourist destinations. About 10 million Thais would be eligible for the subsidy, he added.

Yutthasak said he believes the measure would really stimulate tourism.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakan had discussed the measure with Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana and that the finer details would be worked out before the project was submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

An earlier plan of Prayut’s previous administration to boost tourism by handing out 1,500 baht cash to each citizen was cancelled following strong criticism from social networkers.

The same Government House source said the government would also spend 15 billion baht to help farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including a measure to subsidise interest payments for the SMEs.

The government believes the stimulus package would help the economy expand by almost 3.5 per cent this year, the source added.

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