6 Thai provinces to become 'beggar-free'

Street beggars found to be repeat offenders will face a fine of up to Bt10,000 (S$424), while six provinces will be declared "beggar-free zones" under a flagship project, under a new regulation approved by the Beggar Control Committee this week.

The six pilot provinces are Sing Buri, Prachin Buri, Lamphun, Phatthalung, Buri Ram, and Sukhothai, while another 11 provinces have also announced their intention to become beggar-frees zones and eventually covered under the project umbrella. The project details were discussed at the committee's first annual meeting on Monday, which included Social Development and Human Security Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat. File photo

The meeting discussed the first beggar control road map (2019-2021), which contained concrete measures to reduce the number of beggars.

Anantaporn also instructed ministry officials to send a letter to the Royal Thai Police asking that officers enforce the Beggar Control Act 2016's Article 19. Under that article, those caught illegally begging on street can be punished with maximum of one month in jail and/or a maximum Bt10,000 fine. The committee suggested that police punish violators through a stepped rate of fines: a Bt500 fine for first-timers; a Bt2,000 fine for a second offence; a Bt5,000 fine for third-timers offenders and a Bt10,000 fine for those facing their fourth arrest or more. The meeting also heard about action taken against beggars across the nation.

The central province of Nonthaburi has set up district-level committees tasked with reducing the number of beggars, while the South's Trang province has provided vocational training to beggars to enable them to sustainably care for their families.

Some 3,500 street performers had registered with the authority so that public space could be arranged and to ensure fair income distribution, the committee heard.

The 11 provinces interested in later joining the programme are Trang, Bung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Pattani, Phang Nga, Nan, Phetchabun, Phrae, Ratchaburi, Mae Hong Son and Nong Bua Lamphu.