She said the cabinet yesterday (Mar 31) approved access to the aid for an additional six million people after three million were earlier provided with the cash giveaway. The total cost to the government of the coverage will now be B135 billion.
The first of three tranches of payments will be made later this month after the millions of people who applied are vetted to see if they are eligible.
A Government House source said the funds to finance the extended coverage will come from budgets pooled from various ministries.
Each ministry is to have its budget reduced by 10% in order to cover the aid package and also help to finance efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, there is a plan to issue an executive decree authorising the government to seek loans for the cause.
The source added that the Government Savings Bank and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will also disburse loans worth a combined B1.6bn to the self-employed whose livelihoods are adversely impacted by the virus outbreak.
Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the cabinet meeting also gave the green light to waiving VAT on imported goods for treatment, diagnosis or prevention of COVID-19 which are earmarked for hospitals and other medical facilities.
The waiver will be applied to imports and donations made from March 1 until the end of February next year. A similar waiver has also been approved on income tax and VAT for companies or juristic persons who make donations to help fight the outbreak.
Ms Rachada said the waivers will cost the state about B500 million.
The decision came after authorities warned they will take money back from people who are not eligible but have registered for the B5,000 financial aid.
“About 20 million people have registered for the assistance, but this does not mean they will all get the money,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned yesterday.
Gen Prayut told media that he has instructed the Finance Ministry to explain to the public who exactly is entitled to the aid and how they can protect their right to the assistance.
Artificial intelligence will be used to analyse and screen people to see who meets the criteria set by the Finance Ministry, and money will only be handed over once the information is verified, Gen Prayut warned.
Those who are not eligible will be removed from the list, and if they happen to receive the aid, the money will be taken back, the prime minister warned.
“Don’t deprive those who are really in trouble of the opportunity to access help. However, the government will come up with additional measures to help those who are not eligible for the B5,000 aid,” Gen Prayut said.