Thailand triples cash handouts to S$5.9 billion for workers hit by coronavirus impact

An employee of Tesco Lotus shop online preparing customers' orders in Bangkok on March 31, 2020.
An employee of Tesco Lotus shop online preparing customers' orders in Bangkok on March 31, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand's Cabinet has agreed to triple the number of workers receiving cash handouts to nine million to help ease the impact of the spreading coronavirus, a government official said on Tuesday (March 31).

The government previously planned to provide cash handouts of 15,000 baht (S$650) each to three million workers, taking the total to 45 billion baht. Now its total handout will reach 135 billion baht.

It will use its budget to finance some 45 billion baht, and the finance ministry will seek other funding sources for the rest, government spokesman Narumon Pinyosinwat told reporters.

The handouts are among several stimulus measures introduced to assist businesses and workers during the outbreak.

Thailand has reported 1,651 cases since the country's first coronavirus infection was reported in January. Ten people have died.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as it is heavily reliant on exports and tourism.

Thailand's central bank expects the economy to contract 5.3 per cent this year, which will mark the first shrinkage since the global financial crisis in 2009.