Government says less than half of the 11 million low income earners come to collect welfare cards

The government yesterday (Sept 29) said that less than half of the 11.67 million qualified low-income earners have came to pick up their welfare smart cards to get monthly subsidies from the government for purchases of necessary goods, for bus and train travels, and for power and cooking gas bills.

A total of 14.1 people have registered as low income earners, but 2.53 million were disqualified.

According to the Comptroller General’s Department, although less than half of the 11.67 million welfare cards were collected by qualified income earners, the cards will be valid for use on scehule on October 1.

It said since the welfare smart cards were distributed in 70 provinces on September 21, 40 per cent of the qualified low incomebesrners have picked up the smart cards.

But low income earners in seven remaining provinces including Bangkok, they can pick up welfare smart cards from October 17.

Holders of welfare cards, which are similar to identification cards, can use them to buy necessity goods at Blue Flag discount outlets.

It was expected that after the implementation on October 1, more card holders will gradually start to use the welfare cards.

The department admitted that since the welfare card scheme was the first of its kind in Thailand, the general public may not be familiar with the procedures.

Moreover, the Blue Flag discount shops and participating shops which joined the programme are mostly newcomers who have just registered with the Commerce Ministry.

The shops are gradually installing the Electronic Data Capture or EDC devices to read these smart welfare cards, adding there could be some inconveniences when using the cash cards at the beginning stage.

Normally, the credits in the cards cannot be accumulated and the allowance expires at the end of each month and credits in the cards cannot be withdrawn in cash.

The government has projected that the card holders could find some difficulties at the first stage of launching so the remaining money in the card for October could be accumulated to November to allow the low income earners to get the highest benefit of the government welfare.

Under the government’s subsidy scheme for low income earners, people earning less than 30,000 baht a year will receive 300 baht monthly allowance to buy necessity goods at Blue Flag Pracharat shops, and private shops joined and certified by the Commerce Ministry.

They will also get 500-baht subsidy a month for bus and electric train rides, 500-baht a month for travel on Transport Company’s buses, 500-baht a month for train ride, 45-baht discount for each purchase of cooking gas for 3-month use.

For those earning 30,000-100,000 a year, they will get 200-baht monthly allowance to buy necessity goods while other subsidies will be same as those earning less.

Meanwhile, the Government Housing Bank has reported that the bank has distributed the cards to 1.1 million eligible card holders from 3.5 million qualified low income earners.

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives said it has distributed 2.77 million cards from 6.16 million eligible card holders who registered with the bank.