Govt boasts of an finish to poverty by way of e-cards

People shop with the welfare card, and the government predicts its use will eradicate poverty through additional incentives.

Measures introduced by the government will lift more than 5 million registered poor people above the poverty line, according to a senior Finance Ministry official.

Permanent secretary for finance Somchai Sujjaponse said job training and income generated from state projects would be used to help low-income earners.

The measures are the second phase of government help for the poor under the welfare card scheme launched last year.

About 11.4 million people have registered for the benefits that come with the e-card. The ministry says 5.3 million card subscribers live under the poverty line.

The line sets an annual income of 30,000 baht as the benchmark, a level decided by the National Economic and Social Development Board.

People earning less than 100,000 baht a year are eligible for the welfare offered by the government. They receive cash in the card of between 200 and 300 baht, depending on income, to buy staples in shops participating in the scheme.

The government encourages cardholders to apply for job training courses to learn new skills by adding extra money into their cards.

About 2 million low-income earners have joined the courses and the ministry hoped to reach the 4 million target, Mr Somchai said.

The Pheu Thai Party has criticised the welfare card policy, saying the scheme was a tactic to boost the popularity of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha before a general election is called.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong last month denied any political motive in the scheme, insisting it was launched to help improve the living conditions of the poor.

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