Thailand plans $1.6bln of cash handouts to boost consumption

BANGKOK - Thailand plans cash handouts worth 51 billion baht ($1.64 billion) to boost domestic consumption and support an economy struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a government official said on Wednesday.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy suffered the biggest contraction in more than two decades in the second quarter as the outbreak ravaged tourism and slowed spending. 

Some 14 million low-income earners would receive 1,500 baht ($48.22) each, totalling 21 billion baht, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told reporters after a meeting of a special economic task force on stimulus measures.

It will also offer 30 billion baht cash to 10 million people to buy goods during the final quarter of the year, scaling down an earlier plan to give 45 billion baht to 15 million people, he said. 

Thailand has since June eased most of its coronavirus restrictions due to its low infection numbers, but a ban since April on foreign tourists is limiting the speed of its domestic recovery.

The handout plans, to be financed by some of the government's 1 trillion baht borrowing, will still need cabinet approval, Anucha said.

The government also plans to revise smart visa rules to attract long-term investors, particularly those with special skills or those operating in targeted industries.

"We have to look at medium- and long-term problems too as we don't know when the COVID situation will be over," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters. ($1 = 31.09 baht)




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