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Thais Protest after being rejected 5,000 baht stimulus

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Thais Protest after being rejected 5,000 baht stimulus | Samui Times
Finance permanent-secretary, Prasong Poontanate tries to tame the protesters. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut -Bangkok Post)
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Today, the two-thirds of the Thai citizens that applied for the 5,000 aid but had been denied after initial computer screening, protested and challenged why they have been rejected while storming the offices of the Finance Ministry.

Only 9 million Thais were considered eligible for the most recent stimulus program produced by the Ministry of Finance. About 27 million enrolled to get 5,000 baht per month for a total of 3 months for the disaster aid plan.

Thais Protest after being rejected 5,000 baht stimulus | News by Samui Times

The screening process is continuing, with 27 million citizens enrolled yesterday, 4.78 million were officially disqualified and 2.4 million were already sent money from the Ministry. The Ministry says they intend that all applicants will be screened by the end of this week.

Eligible applicants were classified as Thais over 18 years of age, who are not protected by the National Social Security Fund and who have been hit by the Coronavirus epidemic.

Another category of applicants dealing with problems are those who originally applied but did not obtain the money.

Yesterday, citizens demanded to talk to Finance Minister, Uttama Savanayana, after their applications for 5,000-baht financial assistance had been denied.

Some of those who have been refused is Thailand’s estimated 300,000 sex workers, who do not fit the government’s policy requirements and do not have paperwork or approved jobs. Most of Thailand’s former sex workers in the red-light districts of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket have been pushed back to their provinces, others complain they’re poor with no clients and no money. Many that were at work in and near the bars claim that the bars have all been locked and thrown out.

The Ministry said that it used artificial intelligence to test people requesting the monthly handout (in reality, artificial intelligence is not, computer software only applies a single-size screening criterion).

Prasong Poontanate, the permanent ministry secretary, drawn the short straw and was given to the crowd to answer questions on behalf of the ministry.

He says…

“Those whose applications have been refused will appeal on the website next week.”

“Those who have received a letter saying that they have not been eligible.”

“There could be employers and staff laid off or faced with salary cuts, temporary jobs or self-employed individuals.”

“We’ve used AI to fit current government records with the registry results. For example, when the machine detects an individual in the farmer’s database of the agriculture ministry, his application is discarded.”

“These issues can be overcome when they appeal. The procedure may only be done on the website.”

“People who are unable to access the call centers of the Krungthai Bank and the tax policy office should file requests on the website.”

Thais Protest after being rejected 5,000 baht stimulus | News by Samui Times

A taxi driver’s licence alongside a text message informing him his application for the 5,000-baht aid was rejected. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Registrations for assistance were opened by the Thai finance ministry on 28 March without any time limit. The attack of the web traffic on the site triggered disruptions and problems for the following day. The minister initially predicted that 3 million citizens will be registered. Nevertheless, 27 million applicants are nine times the forecast. The Ministry began warning of legal repercussions when citizens used their situations for false knowledge. Around 700,000 computer claims they have not reported since the alert.

Many people who were turned down have complained they were rejected because the system thinks they are farmers, which they insist they aren’t. Krungthai Bank explained farmers are not eligible for the aid because a separate package is in the pipeline to help the group.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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