Gov’t expands village fund scheme with new Bt15 billion injection

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BANGKOK, Feb 15 – A fresh allocation of Bt15 billion will be granted to the village fund project to spur the economy at the grassroots level, according to a cabinet member.

Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Varathep Ratanakorn said the money will be distributed to 15,000 village funds, each having a start-up cash flow of Bt1 million.

Combined with an earlier amount of Bt21 billion earmarked to 21,000 village funds, the total money circulated in rural communities nationwide is Bt36 billion, he said.

He said the Government Savings Bank, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and Krung Thai Bank have been assigned to facilitate villagers in managing their respective funds and setting financial discipline among fund members.

Mr Varathep said the village fund scheme has stimulated financial circulation, spending and investments in rural areas, covering 13 million people under the project.

The government aims for a total of 80,000 village funds throughout the country but inefficient and mismanaged funds must be developed with the final objective of allowing self-management among fund members, the minister said, citing some successful funds which have boosted their Bt1 million capital to Bt10 million.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra officially launched the Bt15 billion new allocation in a colourful event in Chiang Mai on Thursday and expressed her appreciation to some fund operators who sharply increased their capital to Bt50-100 million.

The village fund project, the brainchild of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in existence for 11 years, currently with 79,255 local funds nationwide.