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THE GOVERNMENT yesterday transferred a second batch of funds into the bank accounts of another 4.2 million state-welfare cardholders who are entitled to Bt500 each as part of the Bt5.5-billion New Year gift programme for Thailand’s 11.1 million low-income earners.
On Saturday, the government transferred funds into the accounts of the first batch of 4 million cardholders, whose ID cards begin with the numbers 32, 33 and 34.
Today, the last batch of 2.9 million cardholders, whose ID numbers start with 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8, will get their money.
Though the recipients were grateful for the extra Bt500, critics have lambasted the government for the handout, which they see as an attempt to win popular support ahead of the February 24 general elections.
In the southern province of Songkhla, many people were seen queuing up in front of Krungthai ATM machines to get their money, with some saying that even though Bt500 is not much, it can go a long way for poor people.
In Yala province, there were long queues of mostly senior citizens who had failed to access their “gift” earlier yesterday. In the Northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima, few withdrew their gift because they did not know that the money had been transferred in line with their ID numbers.
In Udon Thani, many young people were seen helping senior citizens make ATM withdrawals, as cardholders had to key in their ID number to get a code before withdrawing the funds.
Apart from this Bt5.5-billion handout programme, the government is also offering limited electricity and tap water subsidies to welfare cardholders whose income is less than Bt8,333 per month or less than Bt100,000 per year.