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Reduction of Social Disparity: An Objective of the 2011 National Budget
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Monday, May 31, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Internet Governance
Country: Thailand
Created: Jun 07, 2010

The Government has set the national budget for 2011 at 2.07 trillion baht, with an emphasis on reducing social disparity, a problem that has been accumulated for a long period in Thai society. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that apart from laying down foundations for Thailand’s economy and security, while reducing social disparity, another objective of the 2011 national budget was to sustain the country’s economic growth. He cited the spending of the national budget as a mechanism to implement the Government’s policies. Other mechanisms have also been used to support the policies.

For instance, in order to ensure social justice, the Government has entrusted state financial institutions with providing opportunities for low-income earners to have greater access to financial sources. It has also launched several projects to ease people’s debt burden and suspend debts for small farmers and the poor. According to the Prime Minister, the Government has been trying to push for the passage of various bills to reduce social disparity and income gaps. Among them is a bill concerning the establishment of the National Savings Fund to provide an opportunity for 24 million Thais outside the social security system to receive financial support from the fund for the rest of their lives after their retirement. Another draft bill calls for the introduction of land and building taxes to help in the distribution of land for those in need and to narrow the income gap between the rich and the poor in the copuntry.

Prime Minister Abhisit pointed out that over the past 17 months in office, the Government had tried every possible way to revive the Thai economy, which experienced a contraction of 7.1 percent and in the first quarter of 2009 and turned to enjoy a growth rate 12 percent in the first quarter of this year. Regarding income gaps, Thailand has made great progress in reducing the number of people below the poverty line from 45 percent of the population 25 years ago to just below 9 percent today. However, at that time the top 20 percent earners earned 12.8 times the bottom 20 percent in 1986 and 12.7 times today.

In the face of this problem, the Government has attached great importance to the tackling of income gaps among the people and ensuring social justice through the development of quality of life, increasing their income, and reducing their expenditure. Moreover, the Government has offered monthly allowances for older persons and the disabled and provided the people with equal educational opportunities. It has also improved the living conditions of people engaged in agriculture through income guarantees and investment in water source development under the “Thailand: Investing from Strength to Strength” program. All these efforts, the Prime Minister said, aim to provide the maximum benefit for the people and develop Thailand into a society of harmonization and sufficiency.
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