Thailand’s pension system is very much a work in progress. The two principal existing schemes, the Old Age Pension Fund (OAPF) and the Government Pension Fund (GPF), cover roughly 9 million workers between them [see table at end of story]. Another 1.5 million workers are covered by corporate provident funds. A few wealthier Thais benefit from the retirement mutual funds scheme.
The National Pension Fund is expected to bring the remaining 12.4 million of Thailand’s formal salaried employees, chiefly private sector workers, within a mandatory defined contribution pension scheme. However, as Visit Tantisunthorn, secretary general of the GPF admits, the rest of Thailand’s estimated 35 million workers will remain outside any formal pension scheme. “The informal sector will have nothing – farmers, taxi drivers, street cleaners, the self-employed,” he says.
There are as yet no concrete plans to provide any form of assistance for this mass of workers. Although there has been discussion about expanding the OAPF to include them, says Chanchai Supasagee, director of corporate governance and compliance at the GPF, it is likely that these workers might be left to fend for themselves. “The informal sector will have to rely on pillar three,” he says.