Unveiled realities in the Land of Smiles have painted a distressing picture – Thailand, reputed for its vibrant culture and lush landscapes, has officially entered into the sphere of an ageing society. As stated by renown scholars at a seminar held in 2020, a staggering 20% of Thailand’s populace, represented by around 12.9 million people, have surpassed the age of 60.
This exigent issue has been brought forth by four esteemed organizations that organized the seminar. The quartet, comprising the Thailand Consumer Council, People’s Network for the Welfare State, Welfare State Network for Equality and Fairness (We Fair), and the distinguished Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Economics, lamented a disconcerting truth – that Thailand is still in the shadows when it comes to providing an adequate welfare system for the elderly.
Examining the current scenario, every Thai national who has crossed the 60-years threshold receives a monthly remittance varying from 600 to a 1,000 baht. However, a few months post August 2020, the state pension was narrowed down specifically for citizens with little to no monthly income.
The forum illuminated a concern that the lion’s share of Thai citizens aged between 60 and 69 remain shackled to work, primarily due to burdensome personal debt. Even for those fortunately receiving the pension, debts tend to devour a major portion of their funds, leaving a minuscule amount for their daily sustenance. Indubitably, a large number of the elderly are entrenched in dire financial conditions, plagued by the cycle of debt and lacking a safety net of savings, thereby pushing them towards borrowing from unrecognized financial institutions.
To underscore the gravity of the situation, over nearly 90% of the elderly Thais do not possess personal savings, according to a recent study. Whilst this paints a bleak image, the participants of the seminar look at this as a solvable problem. They firmly believe that instead of restricting the state pension, it should be galvanized and extended to everyone, with a handsome payout of 3,000 baht per month. This move, they believe, can act as a balm, easing the hardship of the elderly and at the same time, giving a much-needed adrenaline shot to the economy.
To sum up, should the Land of Smiles wish to uphold its moniker, it would do well to heed the voices emanating from their elderly population, and ensure their golden years are spent in comfort and dignity.