Originally published 2 March 2021
This is not the latest news, but it might be of interest to those of you outside the country, especially if you have a Thai partner. I may not have all the details 100% because I am getting the information second hand, but this is my understanding via Gaun.
The government released another covid relief payment in February. This time it was for a total of 7,000 baht, to be drip-fed over six weeks. 2,000 baht paid in week one and 1,000 a week for the next five weeks. The application to receive this payment involved downloading an app to a phone and then completing an application online. I am told that anyone with money in the bank of 100,000 baht or more weren't eligible, even if that situation happened well in the past.
A visit to an approved bank was then required to verify the details and to have a photo taken. Somewhere in this process, that photo was matched with the Thai ID card photo. We had a guy in the village who had lost a lot of his teeth since he got his ID card photo and was rejected because the images didn't match, I presume he just had to update his ID.
Most of the family applied, and it was breathless anticipation to see if the magic approval came through, and happy days when it did.
This is a credit made to the phone app and can only be used to purchase goods. There doesn't seem to be any restrictions on what type of goods as Gaun spent her entire 2,000 baht week one payment on alcohol (plus one sachet of noodles because she had 6 baht leftover) for Peng's upcoming 21st birthday party
I believe that the store owner gets a 10% cut from the purchase made as recompense for the transaction, which keeps the money turning over in the community. I believe that this is a flexible figure, so that some shops may charge less as an incentive for business.
Although you can't access cash, which could be used for gambling or other less useful activities, I have also heard that there is an underground option to exchange credit for cash with a cut paid for the service. There's always a way, isn't there.
Anyway, good news for locals, and there's nothing that brings a smile more readily to my Isaan family's faces than free money from the government. We will raise a toast to them at Peng's party.
If readers have more information or need to correct what I have written, please feel free to let us all know.
Thanks for reading.