BANGKOK, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the Election Commission may investigate his government’s welfare measures designed to help the poor, as they definitely comply with the law.
According to the premier, the welfare package, including a handout of cash to low-income earners nationwide, are merely a repetition of those which have already been provided by the current government in previous years.
“Do not criticize the measures as a vote-wooing effort since this government has always been providing them.
“No previous governments had provided measures to help more than 10 million low-income earners,” Prayut said.
An estimated 14.5 million people, categorized as low-income earners and are given state welfare cards, will be entitled as recipients to the latest welfare package, calculated to cost some 87 billion baht (about 2.63 billion U.S. dollars) in government budget starting from next month to next September.
The premier confirmed, without elaborating, that similar welfare measures will be also provided during New Year season for farmers, low-income government personnel and the middle-class people nationwide.
His comments apparently followed those made on Thursday by EC chairman Ittiporn Boonprakhong that the polling agency is yet to investigate the Prayut government’s welfare package.
Ittiporn said that his agency is dutifully bound to look into such matters without petitions from any party and no matter if the government might allegedly be found culpable of breaking the election law or not.
The welfare package includes the handout of 500 baht (about 15.15 U.S. dollars) in cash as a “New Year’s gift”, the coverage of a maximum of 230 baht (about 6.96 U.S. dollars) in monthly electricity bill per household and the coverage of a maximum of 100 baht (about three U.S. dollars) in monthly water bill per household.
The once-ruling Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party and other critics alleged that the government was providing the welfare measures merely as part of its ongoing attempts to woo votes from the low-income constituents ahead of a general election, tentatively scheduled for February 24 next year.
Such government measures were not only allegedly designed to bring up the popularity for certain members of the Prayut cabinet, who have already joined a contestant political party, namely Palang Pracharath (power of people of state) Party, but also to help with Prayut’s alleged bid to retain premiership.
Palang Pracharath Party is largely tipped to name Prayut as its top candidate for post-election premier.
Source: NAM News Network