Tourists at a New Year fair in Nakhon Phanom, Dec. 23, 2019.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday announced that the Thai cabinet had greenlighted another 43.5 billion baht (1.438 million U.S. dollars) package to boost domestic consumption and local travel, as Thailand is still reeling from a flagging economy triggered by COVID-19.

About 22.5 billion baht (744 million U.S. dollars) will be offered to 5 million new consumers, at 3,500 baht (115 U.S. dollars) each, under the current co-payment scheme, said Pornchai Theeravet, advisor to the ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).

Pornchai said that the 10 million consumers who had already signed up would get a further 500 baht (16.53 U.S. dollars).

The new package would be given in small amounts from January to March, while 1,500 baht (49.60 U.S. dollars) would be offered to some 14 million low-income earners.

Pornchai said that the 43.5 billion baht (1.438 million U.S. dollars) package is intended as a New Year gift to Thai people who are still struggling to purchase goods and travel within the country.

“The extra money in their pockets will ease some of their financial woes, as well as spur the local economy,” said Pornchai.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith suggested that the Thai economy will need at least two years to recoup the 9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) lost to the pandemic crisis.

The minister said the Thai economy would have expanded by around 3 percent this year if the pandemic crisis did not erupt.

The pandemic crisis will make the economy contract by around 6 percent in 2020, therefore there is a 9 percent gap that needs to be recuperated, Arkhom said.