Welfare cash cards finally active in Thailand
Low-income workers were pleased to hear that they can now start to use their welfare cash cards in various stores across Thailand.
MANY REGISTERED low-income earners nationwide, except in Bangkok and its vicinity, started using welfare cash cards for discounts at Blue Flag outlets or other shops participating in the government’s scheme for the first time yesterday.
The scheme is meant to help 11.67 million people registered as earning no more than Bt100,000 a year to cope with living costs. People earning less than Bt30,000 a year will get a Bt300 monthly allowance, while those earning more than Bt30,000 but less than Bt100,000 a year will get Bt200 monthly allowances.
In Buri Ram’s Muang district, many immediately used the entire credit allotted by their cards to buy commodities at participating shops such as Thaweekit’s Khok Wat branch, saying they did not want to have to make multiple trips to the store.
Huai Rat district resident Chid Nikumram brought her own and her elderly mother’s card, which she presented with an authorisation form, to buy items in Muang district. She said Huai Rat did not yet have participating shops so she had travelled 10 kilometres and spent both cards’ entire monthly allowances.
An unstable Internet connection also interrupted service at a card reader, interrupting the flow of sales at the Khok Wat store branch.
In Si Sa Ket, Governor Thawat Suraban said 644 shops out of the 1,199 that applied in 22 districts were in service while the rest were pending card reader installations. At Si Sa Ket’s Tha Rua shop, card holder Chusri Jindawong said she was happy with the allowance but wished the| government would increase it to Bt500.
Benjamas Patchima, 47, spent Bt200 on food and thanked the government for the scheme, which she said she hoped would be permanent.
Another beneficiary, Choom Chompho, said the Bt300 worth of commodities would last 10 days and were a big help. Morya Plaza owner Jakkarin Cherchai said more cardholders than expected showed up to buy items. Besides |helping folks cope with living costs, the scheme also was a boost for retail shops, he said.
Nakhon Ratchasima has 497,879 registered low-income earners in 32 districts.
In Surat Thani, farmers used the cards to buy fertiliser and tools at Sahathai Garden Plaza, as provincial commerce official Wutthichai Wongnakphetch inspected the scheme’s progress and had bank officials fix |malfunctioning card readers.
In Songkhla, 216,032 registered cardholders are eligible to buy goods at 71 equipped shops |in 10 districts while 200 other shops were in process of installing devices.
Other people used the cards for bus transport, such as Surat Thani resident Lek Phromdee, 61, who bought bus tickets to Bangkok using credit. In Udon Thani, few beneficiaries used the cards for transport as only three bus routes operated |by the government-owned Transport Co had applied for the scheme.
Source: The Nation