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Government readies handout of free SIM cards for the poor

Government readies handout of free SIM cards for the poor

BANGKOK: The Finance Ministry plans to seek the Cabinet’s approval to supply registered low-income earners, currently receiving a range of state welfare benefits, with a mobile phone SIM card offering a free internet connection.


By Bangkok Post

Monday 3 December 2018, 09:41AM


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is pictured demonstrating using a mobile phone. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong says the plan to provide free ‘Prayutphone’ SIM cards is only to help low-income people access the news and farm reports – ‘not watching films, playing games or listening to music’. Photo: Bangkok Post

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is pictured demonstrating using a mobile phone. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong says the plan to provide free ‘Prayutphone’ SIM cards is only to help low-income people access the news and farm reports – ‘not watching films, playing games or listening to music’. Photo: Bangkok Post

“The purpose of the free internet is to ensure the poor have access to internet-based sources of information and news that concerns them,” said Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong.

“Information about farming and agricultural product price forecasts, for instance, should help farmers plan their production better and avoid an oversupply of particular types of crops,” he said.

In his keynote speech to the 36th seminar of the national Chambers of Commerce, Gen Prayut defended his welfare programme, the state-financed welfare cards and his 20-year strategic plan.

He insisted the welfare cards, which were issued to registered low-income earners, were not designed to woo votes in the run-up to the elections. He said about 14.7 million people earned less than B100,000 per year.

He did not specifically address the ‘Prayutphone’ plan, but denied that his government’s 20-year strategic plan was intended to help the regime prolong its stay in power.

Two options have been prepared for the distribution of the free internet SIMs, according to Mr Apisak.

For those who already own a SIM with an internet connection, the government will top up the package to a point considered sufficient for their use. As for the people who do not already have a package that includes the internet, a new SIM with a data allowance will be provided, he said.

“The government only wants to guarantee access to key information and news. This doesn’t mean we are giving away free SIMs for watching films, playing games or listening to music,” he said.

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The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is finalising the total costs and details, including data allotment, he said.

Only low-income earners with a state welfare card will be eligible to receive the free internet SIM.

The next round of registration for welfare cards is expected to come next year and possibly after the new government takes office, Mr Apisak said.

Some criteria will be changed, including the use of the household income instead of personal income to determine eligibility, he said.

In the previous rounds some older people who were living with and being supported by wealthy family members still received cards, he added.

 

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Kurt | 09 December 2018 - 13:48:39

The whole 'free internet exercise' confirm in a way that the government expects that the poor remain poor.  Otherwise they should come up with measures to lift life of the poor and 'handle' Thailand better as now being now the most unequal country In the world ( bangkokpost)

Jor12 | 08 December 2018 - 16:53:33

needs lessons in basic economics to stop the dribble

DeKaaskopp | 08 December 2018 - 15:18:20

...do you read your own comments ? First you say sugar cane from Africa or Cuba is cheaper than Thai sugar cane. Next you say there is no selling below market price.And you talk about "Thai middle man" You think in other countries farmer would sell their product directly on the world market? And "Thai subsidies" USA,EU etc.have all agricultural subsidies.Nothing Thai specific.

Kurt | 06 December 2018 - 20:46:58

@Dek, wrong thinking. There is a world market price for everything. There is not such thing as ..'selling below world market prices'..  There is in this case only a situation of insular Thailand price thinking, to high, not confirming with the rest of the world. Time after time. Than thai politicians come with subsidies, instead of international marketing teaching. it favours vote buying...

Jor12 | 06 December 2018 - 20:06:40

You read too much comments from the media and idiots on here, who suggest vote buying. It could be that the millions of poor need help as there is no welfare system per se here, not like other countries like Australia where the more children you have the more money the government gives you and get paid for not working.  Consider also the trickle effect of the policy.

Kurt | 06 December 2018 - 18:05:21

Instead of subsidising farmers, this whole 'helping the poor' affair is purely vote buying for next election.  If you want to lift the level of the poor, don't do it through welfare ( and keep control over them). Government instead should budget education. Modern teaching farming schools, including bookkeeping/finance teaching. Get rid of that rotten thai middle men system. 

DeKaaskopp | 06 December 2018 - 15:41:26

Wondering if the big companies in Cuba or African countries selling their sugar cane below world market price as K says,how much will there be left for the single farmer? Especially at this times,where the price has fallen already a lot.

Kurt | 05 December 2018 - 13:32:13

Nothing to do with the government?  Rubber, rice, sugar corn, etc, any thai government was/is involved. ... and the fact is: sugar cane from Africa and Cuba(!) are cheaper than thai. Perhaps to many influential thai 'middle men'?

Jor12 | 05 December 2018 - 11:38:39

That is the whole point of the article to give farmers the means to research for themselves and to properly plan.  Market forces at play here, nothing to do with governments.

DeKaaskopp | 04 December 2018 - 15:34:35

"And the government knows that the large amounts of african countries sugarcane is cheaper.." Please K,at least get the facts right. The whole African continent produces only 5% of sugar cane worldwide.Much of it doesn't even get exported.  

Kurt | 03 December 2018 - 16:07:51

We read sometimes about agricultural oversupply. Why government not warn farmers in advance for it?One farmer change to sugar cane, many change to that. And the government knows that the large amounts of african countries sugarcane is cheaper on international markets than thai..So?   And why filty rich Thailand still has so many poor people? Modernise farming up to modern 1st world standards.

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