Thailand's cabinet approves measures to care for elderly

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday (Nov 08) approved measures to help the elderly, including a tax break for firms hiring them, in a bid to ease the burden on the government as the population ages.

Thailand's 68 million people are ageing at one of the fastest rates in Southeast Asia, with the working-age population expected to shrink by 11 percent by 2040.

The military government has allocated 287 billion baht (S$11 billion) for pension-related schemes in the current fiscal year and the amount is expected to rise to 698 billion baht by 2024, Kobsak Pootrakool, vice minister at the Prime Minister's Office, told reporters.

"These measures are necessary in order to reduce government spending and help people to have enough income after retirement," he said.

Companies hiring people at the age of 60 or above will be allowed to have a double tax deduction on wages paid to elderly employees who earn up to 15,000 baht a month, Kobsak said.

But firms can only employ elderly people up to 10 percent of their workforce, he said.

Currently, about 94,000 people over 60 are still working, Kobsak said, adding at least 20 percent of Thailand's population would be over 60 in 2025.

Businesses have been urged to hire more elderly Thais. With a monthly pension of 600-1,000 baht a month, most of them have no choice but to keep working.

The measures include 4 billion baht in loans for developers of "senior complex" projects for the elderly, as well as a reverse mortgage scheme allowing elderly homeowners to borrow against the equity in their homes, with no repayments needed until the borrowers die or the homes are sold.