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Government urged to scrap welfare smart card scheme

Civic groups have urged the government to scrap the current welfare smart card scheme and to replace it with a universal state welfare system which is accessible to all groups of low-income earners.

Mrs Sureerat Trimakka, coordinator of the People's Network Moving for Welfare State, told a seminar for welfare reform on Saturday(Nov 18), pointed out that the welfare smart card scheme did not cover all low-income earners who earn less than 30,000 baht a year because they did not have permanent residences and, therefore, were not eligible for registration to receive the smart cards.

These low-income earners who are excluded from the scheme do not have access to the universal health care scheme and they will become poor when they turn 60 because they will be unemployed and will not be eligible to state allowance for retirees, said Mrs Sureerat.

She suggested a universal state welfare system to replace the welfare smart card scheme so that all low-income earners will be taken care of by the state even though they do not have permanent residences.

The civic groups also called on the government to scrap all the incentives designed to lure foreign investors to invest in Thailand, claiming that this approach to attract foreign investors will cause about 200 billion baht loss in revenue each year in exchange for the creation of 50,000 jobs.

Mrs Sureerat claimed the tax incentives would not help in resolving the problem of poverty or narrow the income gap between the rich and the poor, but will instead make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

She suggested that the government should provide more help to SME start-ups.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)