Elderly living allowance raise gets backing

Elderly living allowance raise gets backing

The House committee on social welfare will forward to parliament a bill raising the monthly living allowance currently offered to elderly poor people to 3,000 baht per month.

Citing findings from a new study by a parliamentary panel looking into a proper basic state pension system, the House committee yesterday signed in support of the bill to be submitted to the House for deliberation, said Natthacha Boonchaiinsawat, chairman of the House committee.

The current rates of monthly living allowances paid to elderly poor people in the government’s state welfare scheme are no longer sufficient to cope with current living costs, said Mr Natthacha.

The ideal minimum monthly living allowance for the elderly poor should be 3,000 baht, said Wanvipa Maison, chair of the parliamentary panel studying the rate.

This monthly rate meets the poverty line specified by the National Economic and Social Development Council.

The baseline monthly living allowance for everyone between 60 and 69 years of age is currently fixed at 600 baht. The rates go up to 700 baht when people reach 70 and 800 baht when people reach 80 and beyond.

Each year, about 90 billion baht is spent on funding the payment of living allowances to around 11.8 million poor elderly people.

In comparison, the budget for funding the payment of pensions paid to retired civil servants exceeds 300 billion baht annually, Ms Wanvipa said.

This huge gap could be narrowed by raising the minimum monthly living allowance for the poor elderly from 600 baht to 1,200 baht, which is estimated to require about 50 billion to 60 billion baht in extra funding, she said.

Ms Wanvipa said that more raises would then be introduced progressively in time to reach the 3,000-baht-a-month mark.

The government now has around 40 billion baht at its disposal from a central budget for use in the form of a contingency fund.

More money could be drawn from the budget earmarked as a contingency fund at the ministerial level, she said.