Low-income earners receive direct payments into their welfare cards each month but the Comptroller-General has also paid out more than 100 million baht for train and bus tickets.
Almost 12 billion baht was disbursed during the first four months of the government’s welfare and subsidy scheme for the poor, according to the Comptroller-General’s Department.
Yanee Sangsrichun, the department’s deputy director-general, said a total of 11.94 billion baht was spent between October 2017 and last month under the scheme which saw 11.4 million low-income earners sign up.
Of the disbursed amount, 11.8 billion baht was paid to Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops, 65.3 million baht in train services, 38.2 million baht for bus services and 14.3 million baht for cooking gas.
Under the subsidy scheme worth about 41.9 billion baht a year, the government transfers 200-300 baht each month to welfare smart cards handed out to recipients.
Recipients earning less than 30,000 baht a year receive a monthly allowance of 300 baht, while those with annual earnings of 30,000-100,000 baht receive 200 baht to buy discounted goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and other designated stores.
Yanee: Most goes on train services
Each card holder also gets 1,500 baht a month to subsidise transport, which consists of 500 baht each for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains, and local public buses and electric trains.
According to Ms Yanee, a total of 20,272 electronic data capture devices (EDC), which can read the welfare cards, were installed at designated shops including 18,789 Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and 828 cooking gas stores.
Another 20,000 further EDC units will be installed by the Finance Ministry, she added.
Meanwhile, a source at the Finance Ministry said about 1.58 million people have signed up for the second phase of the programme which will provide employment training.
The number of recipients who registered between Feb 1-9 for the second phase accounts for 14% of the programme subscribers. The registration is open until Feb 28.
Earlier, the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) estimated that about 5.3 million recipients of the subsidy programme would sign up for the training programmes.
Those who participate in the job training will also receive an additional monthly allowance of 100 or 200 baht on top of the current amount.
According to the FPO, of that estimated 5.3 million, about 4 million will undergo job training and about 1 million others are expected to be employed by the private sector in exchange for tax cuts.
The government has agreed to allocate 35.67 billion baht to finance 34 projects to raise income for low-income earners and offer tax incentives to attract private firms to organise training or hire them.