By THE NATION
THE CABINET yesterday gave the green light to all government ministries to prepare projects considered “New Year presents” to the people.
However, Government Spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta insisted that the seasonal gifts were not politically motivated or aimed at wooing public support in the run-up to the election.
He said the projects by different ministries, which will go into effect for the New Year, are part of their “routine activities” at this time of year.
The projects will include handouts to the poor, extra money for the elderly, an income-tax deduction and subsidies for rubber and palm-tree growers.
“The New Year presents are part of the government policy of helping people. They are normal projects that require an ordinary budget. There is nothing political, even though this time it is close to the election,” Puttipong said at Government House.
“These are normal activities by the ministries that they prepare for the people. There’s nothing special,” he said.
“For example, the Finance Ministry has a project to help the poor in order to stimulate the economy and help reduce the burden on people. The budget was allocated long ago, and not recently,” the spokesman added.
‘No aim to gain political support’
He said the projects were really aimed at helping the beneficiaries in the short term, with no intention of gaining political support.
“Those projects would still have been implemented even if the election had not been held at this time,” Puttipong said.
At its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet endorsed a proposed Finance Ministry regulation that includes three types of goods as items eligible for income-tax deduction.
The goods are tyres made from locally grown rubber, OTOP products, and books (both in paper and electronic forms).
To become eligible for a tax deduction, which is limited to no more than Bt15,000, income-tax payers must purchase these goods between December 15 and January 16, 2019.
The ministry’s Revenue Department has proposed the revised regulation as part of a tax measure aimed at helping farmers, community residents and consumers of necessary goods such as books, said the department’s spokesman, Pinsai Suraswadi, yesterday.
He said the tax measure is expected to help rubber farmers and communities producing local goods, and also encourage more reading.