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Thailand’s National Welfare System to Cover All Groups of People by 2016
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Country: Thailand
Created: Sep 06, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the Government has set a target for the national welfare system to cover all groups of Thai people in the next six years, or by the year 2016.

The Prime Minister delivered a keynote address titled “Development of a Suitable Welfare State and Thai Society” at King Prajadhipok’s Institute in Bangkok on 27 August 2010, when he exchanged views with a group of academics on the welfare system and the future of Thailand.

In his address, the Prime Minister said that poverty, in terms of inequality and disparity, remains a major problem in Thai society that needs to be rectified, and that the welfare issue has received greater attention among Thai people. In order to reduce social disparity effectively, apart from providing welfare, he said, the country’s development process and policy must be conducive to the ensuring of justice.

He pointed out that the Government emphasized two factors in connection with the welfare system. The first factor involves the real situation of the global economy and the structural problem in Thailand. The present situation is that the world is changing very rapidly, leading to the fluctuation of economic and trade competition all the times. As a result, a financial crisis may take place any time and in any place. So Thailand needs to establish a better welfare system urgently in order to cope with possible impacts of crises toward the people.

The second factor is that the country’s welfare system should be expanded to cover all groups of people, especially those in the non-formal sector. At present, benefiting from the welfare system are government officials, state enterprise employees, and other employees and workers under the social security system, managed by the Social Security Office. The social security program does not yet cover workers in the agriculture sector. The Prime Minister said that the Government found that many farmers did not want their children to continue to be engaged in farming, as this occupation lacks social security. In order to ensure a secure living for those in the non-formal sector, especially farmers, the Government needs to make an effort to expand the national social welfare system urgently, so that it would benefit all groups of people.

Prime Minister Abhisit said that this effort was not a populist policy that might lead to the problems of fiscal discipline and political conflict. He explained that he avoided saying that the effort was meant to create “a welfare state,” since Thailand is not in the position of shouldering the burdens of providing all social security programs. What the Government would do was to promote the social security system, or social security funds. The Government intends to propose the bill on the National Savings Fund for consideration at the current parliamentary session. The new law would enable those outside the existing social security system to have their own savings funds, with part of the contributions provided by the Government, so that they would have a more secure living in their old age.
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