Welfare card use hitting targets

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Bangkok – The Ministry of Commerce is looking into allowing welfare cards to be used to purchase cooking gas, after recording over 5 billion baht spent via the cards since they were introduced on October 1.

Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong announced Monday that all 18,000 Electronic Data Capture (EDC) machines will be installed as planned to accommodate welfare card users across the country. He said that from the beginning of October to mid-November, more than 5 billion baht was spent via the cards, meaning that over 90 percent of the country’s 11 million card holders are using them regularly. It is believed that once all the EDC machines are installed, total spending will quickly exceed 6 billion baht, the target of the program.

Both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy are currently discussing how to add cooking gas to the list of goods that can be purchased with the cards but have noted some technical obstacles.

The Commerce Ministry is surveying the nation’s Blue Flag shops to make sure they are all easily accessible. If it is found that some of the shops are not located as intended by the program, the Ministry of Finance will be tasked with allotting budget to remedy the issue.