Thailand's Office of the National Economics and Social Development Board, indicated that the number of people below the poverty line increased by nearly 20 per cent in 2015-2016.
Some 5.81 million people lived in poverty last year, defined as having an income below 2,920 baht per month.
“From the statistics, we also found that the number of poor people is on the rise, because the daily expenses of the poor, especially food prices, are increasing. But on the other hand their income is getting lower, especially the income of poor people in the agriculture sector." said Decharut Sukkumnoed, an economics professor at Kasetsart University. In comparison, said Decharut, statistics showed “the richest group of people in Thai society … have increasing income, especially after the coup three years ago”. He said the civil state system allowed big conglomerates, which compose the highest income group of society, to get more economic benefit than do the poor from the government’s projects intended to help the poor. The policy is giving the rich an opportunity to take advantage of the poor, he said. Decharut said that welfare does not much help the poor.
Another academic, Surawit Wannakrairoj, a professor from Faculty of Agriculture of Kasetsart University, pointed to the civil state’s farming policy as an illustration of what is wrong. The policy intends to modernise Thailand’s agriculture and boost farmer incomes, he said. In practice, however, many policies and laws, such as the big plantation policy or Plant Varieties Protection Act, are instead helping big conglomerates in the agriculture sector to tighten their grip on farmers and force them to use only the conglomerate’s supplies.