Update: Air Asia is offering domestic return trips anywhere in Thailand, exclusive of tax, for a cheque
FROM CHEQUE to checkout as soon as possible. That was the game plan for many of the people on Phuket who claimed money today as part of a national economic revival scheme.
A total of 82,091 people on the island are entitled to each collect 2000 baht in the form of a cheque from Social Security from today.
Retailers were ready and waiting, with Tesco Lotus, for example, offering a basketload of goodies valued at up to 6000 baht for each 2000 baht cheque.
Crowds were so large today that the processing was done in the Sala Anekprasong, otherwise known as Phuket Community Hall, opposite the Governor's Mansion.
Tesco Lotus representatives were on hand to tell the recipients of the windfall how to invest their money straight away in a purchase to enliven the retial economy.
But representatives from the Bangkok Bank were also there, urging fiscal restraint and a boost to national savings.
The hardest part as always was earning the money, with a wait of three hours for many who arrived in the morning, anxious to get their money in case the government changed its mind in a hurry.
In the afternoon, the crowds thinned out a little.
A total of 75,477 company workers on the island are entitled to claim their cheque, along with 6614 self-employed people.
About 500 people a day will be allowed to collect their cheques between now and April 8, by letters of the alphabet. Other cheques will be collected at large workplaces, with more than 200 staff.
A second handout will follow from April 9 for another 44,110 people. Other handouts were scheduled for Chalong, Thalang and Kathu early next month.
People with incomes under 15,000 baht a month are entitled to claim the 2000 baht cheque.
The Director of Phuket Social Security, Porntip Tanthai, said that the system of going through a set number of people alphabetically allowed officials to check carefully that the recipients were qualified to collect the money.
Nationally, 164,182,000 million baht is being handed out in the first round of economic stimulation.
The cheques are good for six months. Those who opt for the Tesco Lotus concept will probably find plenty in the bonus baskets, with 550,000 packages on offer around Thailand.
Locally, Tesco Lotus has just decided to no longer hand out car park cards at the supermarket. From now on, company officials say, the security staff will patrol the carpark to make sure cars are safe.