Raise taxes on the rich instead of cutting elderly allowances, protesters say


A group of elderly people rallied outside the Finance Ministry on Wednesday morning to demand that a plan to restrict universal monthly allowances for the elderly to the poor be cancelled.

About 40 elderly protesters rallied in front of Gate 4 of the ministry’s compound to submit a letter listing their demands to the ministry’s permanent secretary.

The protest was coordinated by the We Fair, Welfare organisation.

The letter noted that the protesters had heard that the ministry planned to submit its cost-cutting proposal to the next government for approval. It said that the universal monthly allowance for the elderly was initially an upgrade of a charity system introduced for impoverished elderly people in 2009. The upgrade introduced a tiered system in 2010 that grants 600 to 1,000 baht monthly allowances to the elderly.

The allowance amount has not been raised since it was introduced, the letter noted.

It urged the Finance Ministry to consider three points:

- Providing a monthly allowance only for the poor subverts the principle of providing universal welfare to citizens and fails to be based on the value of universal human dignity. Moreover, the process of verifying who is poor enough to receive the allowance will result in many elderly people who are struggling financially being cut off from the monthly payment.

- The monthly allowance is a basic right of all Thai citizens who are at least 60 years of age. The elderly monthly allowance does not overlap with the welfare cards introduced during the government of outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. If the government restricts the monthly allowance to about 5 million welfare cardholders, about 6 million elderly people currently receiving the payments will be deprived of their right to receive them.

- The government cannot achieve financial stability by reducing social-welfare spending. Instead, it should levy new taxes to reduce the income gap, including a wealth tax, capital gains tax, and land-vacancy tax. The protesters also urged the government to make the taxation system more efficient and less favourable to high-income earners.