Thai Cabinet extends free train, bus services


BANGKOK, May 1 — The Cabinet on Tuesday extended free third-class train and non-air conditioned bus services to the low-income Thai public for another five months to help reduce their cost of living, and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra convened a meeting with economic ministers and other relevant agencies to deal with the rising cost of living and ongoing inflation.

Deputy Transport Minister Chatt Kuldiloke said that free rides on third-class trains and regular (non air-con) buses will last through Sept 30. The free transport measures ended April 30.

To continue helping low-income earners, the free ride will cost the government some Bt1.66 billion as compensation for Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and State Railway of Thailand (SRT).

The measures began in 2008 during the administration of the late former prime minister Samak Sundaravej to assist low-income earners.

Under the free transport measures, the BMTA will provide 800 buses per day for free rides while the SRT will run 164 rail trips daily.

Meanwhile, Ms Yingluck convened a meeting with economic ministers and other relevant agencies in the afternoon to review the economic situation and handle the rising cost of living, which has been affected the consumers.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, PM’s Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) Secretary-General Arkom Termpitayapaisit and Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul.

The premier assigned Mr Kittiratt and Mr Boonsong to seek solutions to deal with rising prices of household and other consumer products.

She also called for related agencies to reduce inflation attributed to increasing energy prices as an urgent issue and mapping out measures to resolve problems and assist consumers.

Regarding Thailand’s inflation, Permanent Secretary for Commerce Yanyong Puangrach on Tuesday announced that Thai inflation rose in April by 2.47 per cent year-on-year, the lowest level in 29 months. He projected that overall 2012 inflation would grow within a range of 3.9 per cent.