According to Thai law, the elderly are supposed to receive monthly living allowances. However, those already receiving pensions are not qualified to receive additional allowances.
Last month, the media reported that an 89-year-old woman in Buri Ram was told to return B84,000 of her allowances after it was discovered that she had already received special pension payments following the death of her army officer son.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda yesterday (Feb 1) said the ministry is considering requesting amendments be made to regulations to address the issue of the elderly receiving multiple welfare packages.
Gen Anupong is expected to reveal his plan after the ministry has concluded its investigation into the matter.
He said the ministry has asked all 7,850 local administrative organisations nationwide to avoid causing more problems to the elderly while it finds solutions.
Gen Anupong suggested that local organisations negotiate with the elderly or delay the process of collection.
Concerned government agencies have reportedly agreed to delay the process for some people, such as those who are very old and bedridden, and those with children that have served the country.
“Others who have received a lot of pension money but still accepted the allowance might be handled differently,” he said.
However, the minister said it was still unclear how to halt legal proceedings against those already facing legal action from the government.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said he agrees with the idea to allow the elderly to keep their allowances, but suggested intention must also be taken into account when judging who should return the money.
The deputy premier insisted that the elderly will not go to jail since these are civil cases.
Early this month, reports began emerging of the Comptroller General’s Department asking elderly citizens to return allowances they had not been qualified to receive.
Among them were widows, parents of deceased state officials, police officers and soldiers.
The Lawyers Council of Thailand has urged provincial lawyer councils to assist the elderly in returning their living allowances, noting it is believed they did not intend to cheat the system.