May 3, 2023
BANGKOK – Nine political parties shared their policies on the elderly in a forum held last week by the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) and the National Health Commission Office.
The dialogue, titled “Is Thailand Ready for an Ageing Society?”, saw politicians promising everything from death benefits and better monthly allowances to jobs and 24-hour nursing care.
Here’s what the parties had to say:
Decharut Sukkumnoed, director of the party’s Think Forward Centre, said up to 8% of the elderly in Thailand live below the poverty line and the only way they can be helped is to increase their monthly allowance.
He said the party’s policy is to gradually increase the monthly allowance to 3,000 baht by 2027, which will require a budget of 420 billion baht to cover the country’s 12 million senior citizens.
He said that once this policy goes into effect, the number of elderly people in the low-income category will drop to about 1%.
He added that Move Forward will also set up a special fund to provide a monthly allowance of 9,000 baht to bedridden seniors, so they can afford 24-hour nursing care. The party also plans to set up community-based treatment centres to ensure medical care is at hand for the elderly.
The party is also considering helping people clear household debts by giving them additional sources of income.
Pheu Thai Party
Theerarat Samrejvanich, member of the party’s political communication committee, said the party will upgrade the 30-baht universal healthcare scheme, so the elderly have easier access to hospitals and medical treatment.
The party also plans to reduce income inequality by providing 10,000 baht in digital currency to people above the age of 16. These “digital wallets’ can be used to purchase items within a 4-kilometre radius of their home. It also plans to promote the hiring of senior citizens by giving businesses tax incentives.
Palang Pracharath Party
Sontirat Sontijirawong, the chief political strategist, said PPRP plans to offer an allowance of 3,000 baht for people aged 60-69, 4,000 baht for those aged 70-79 and 5,000 baht for those over 80.
Since Thailand has more than 500,000 elderly bedridden patients, the party plans encourage people aged 60-65 to join a health link to provide nursing care. It also plans to make telemedicine more easily available for people in remote areas and create jobs for the elderly.
United Thai Nation Party
Boonyod Sooktinthai, who oversees the party’s communications and public relations, said the party aims to improve the social security structure so it can provide sustainable support to the elderly.
He also said the party intends to create a fund for the elderly to borrow from to start a small business, as well as boost career opportunities for people beyond the age of retirement. For instance, he said, expanding the health and wellness industry will attract elderly foreign tourists and in turn create hundreds of thousands of jobs for people of all ages.
Supachai Jaisamut, the party’s registrar, said the main policy will be to set up a life insurance fund for people above the age of 60, with death benefits worth up to 100,000 baht. It will also offer loans of up to 20,000 baht for occupational support, subsidise dental treatment, offer benefits like solar panels to reduce expenses as well as provide additional sources of income.
Pisit Leeahtam, chair of the party’s policy committee, said the party aims to extend the retirement age, so businesses can benefit from people’s extensive experience. The party also plans to provide an annual subsidy of 30,000 baht for elderly clubs in each community, allocate a 1-trillion-baht fund to help clear elderly farmers’ debts, push for compulsory savings and make provident fund mandatory for all employees. Retirees who do not have adequate savings will be provided with financial aid or employment, he added.
Thai Sang Thai Party
Pariyate Angoonkitti, the party’s communications and public relations director, said the first step will be to provide a generous allowance to people of retirement age. For this, he said, the monthly pension will be increased to 3,000 baht.
The party also plans to upgrade the 30-baht universal healthcare system as well as create jobs for people who do not wish to retire.
Chart Pattana Kla Party
Pornchai Maranet, director of the party’s policy committee, said the party will provide businesses with a 5,000 baht subsidy to hire elderly workers who are still capable of working. It will also lower the income tax rate for those who earn less than 400,000 baht a year, create a fund to provide business loans of up to a million baht and provide families with 50,000 baht in financial aid to convert their homes to make them suitable for the elderly.
Udomsak Srisutiva, the party’s deputy secretary-general and member of its policy and strategic committee, said the party had devised a “wow” policy, in which “w” stands for wealth as in financial wellbeing, “o” for opportunities and “w” for welfare. The party also plans to extend the retirement age to 65 and create jobs for those who want to continue working. It also plans to set up elderly care centres across the nation.