Bangkok (VNA) – The Thai cabinet on January 12 approved a number of measures to reduce the cost of living and increase liquidity, and ease the impact of the new wave of COVID-19 infections.

The measures including cutting down electricity and tap water charges, a handout of 7,000 baht (about 230 USD) over two months to needy people, and provide soft loans to eligible businesses, local media reported.

Internet usage fees would be reduced and internet speeds boosted to support work from home.

The 90 percent reduction in land and building taxes and the reduced 0.01 percent fee for property transfers and mortgages will be extended.

The government will reopen its co-payment consumption subsidy scheme later this month, for 1 million people. The 1 million rights were unused from the two previous rounds of registration.

Soft loans would be arranged to boost liquidity, for eligible people and businesses. The government had allocated 200 billion baht (6.64 billion USD) for this.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government has enough money to support the new COVID-related financial measures.

About 490 billion baht remained from the Finance Ministry's 1-trillion-baht borrowing project to cope with COVID-19's impact, and about 130 billion baht from the government's contingency fund could also be used for this purpose, he said.

Thailand on January 12 reported 287 new COVID-19 cases, 278 of them local transmissions, bringing the total since COVID-19 first appeared in January 2020 to 10,834. No new deaths were reported, leaving the accumulated toll at 67.

Earlier this month, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) downgraded Thailand’s economic outlook, with only 1.5-3.5 percent growth this year if the government fail to control the new wave of COVID-19 in three months. JSCCIB predicted that the country’s exports will expand by 3-5 percent this year, down from the previous estimate of 4-6 percent expansion, following the new outbreak./.