To help those sheltering at home with the air on, the government yesterday approved lowering residential utility bills for two months amidst Thailand’s latest and most severe COVID-19 outbreak.
The two-month reduction in water and electricity bills will be valid for May and June bills to provide relief and encourage people to remain at home, government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek said Wednesday afternoon.
However, the approach to calculating the lower bills is byzantine.
Households that consume under 90 units of electricity won’t have to pay anything. Those consuming 90 units to 150 units will have the first 90 units waived and must pay the rest.
But use over 150 units? Users who use between 150 units to 500 units will pay the same amount as their April bill, while those who consume 500 units to 1,000 units will pay the same amount as their April bill and receive a 50% discount on additional units consumed.
Households will receive a 10 % tap water rate cut on their May and June bills.
However, as soon as the relief plan rolled out, people complained about the delay since many people have been working from home since April, which also happens to be the hottest month of the year.
“My April bill rose double. Why don’t you have us pay the same amount as the March bill instead?” Noi Warissra wrote on Ratchada’s announcement of the relief plan.
“April bills are more expensive than every month, why are you using it as the baseline for payment? This measure will only get people complaining,” wrote another Facebook user Chuen Kru.
The utility rate cuts happened last year, too, when Thailand was hit with its first-wave outbreak after complaints flooded social media, sending #ExpensiveElectricityBill trending on Thai Twitter. People said their bills were outrageously high and demanded the government take action to offset their pain as they abided by orders to stay at home.
In response, the Energy Ministry backed reduced rates effective March 2020 through May 2020.