Thailand

Govt to simplify ID process in state welfare mobile app

The Commerce Ministry has asked the Finance Ministry to simplify the purchasing process through the Thung Ngern Pracharat mobile application, which many small businesses found to be inconvenient and too complicated.

The Thung Ngern Pracharat mobile application, which was launched on Aug 1, provides state welfare cardholders access to a wider range of product varieties and acts as an additional distribution channel for small businesses and merchants in wet markets.

The application requires the user to key in a 6-digit password to make purchases through the system. Many small businesses and state welfare cardholders had complained about the inconvenience, saying this obstacle has put them off the application, according to the Commerce Ministry.

"Many small businesses are micro-SMEs that are often averse to technology and are threatened by the complicated process," said Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

"The government will discuss the benefits of joining the Thong Fah Pracharat project, through which the government has allocated 4 billion baht each month to help low-income earners."

Mr Sontirat said the Finance Ministry is improving the self-identification process for the benefit of small businesses and welfare cardholders, which is expected to be effective by October.

Around 30,000 small retailers have signed up to join the Thung Ngern Pracharat project -- 10,000 among which have received the Finance Ministry's approval to sell goods that range from pork, vegetables, and fresh food pick-up truck, noodles and miscellaneous goods.

The Commerce Ministry will submit more shop lists to the Comptroller-General's Department, and expects the number of participating merchants to reach its target of 100,000 vendors.

Mr Sontirat said that the government is evaluating the state welfare card project, following an order from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The government had estimated that the Thong Fah Pracharat scheme can generate some 450 billion baht worth of cash for the Thai economy.

State welfare cardholders normally spend more than 200-300 baht given to them by the government, with many cardholders spending between 500-1,000 baht per transaction.

The Thong Fah Pracharat shops are part of a 41.9-billion-baht aid package approved by the cabinet in August last year, which aims to help 11.7 million low-income earners -- 5 million of whom live below the poverty line.

Apart from providing low-priced consumer goods, the package also includes allowances for rides on public transportation, as well as subsidised utility bills.

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