Thai civil servants get leave to volunteer
30 May 2007

Bangkok, Thailand: Civil servants will be given five days leave a year to do volunteer work  starting today, says Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham.  The announcement was made after Thai government declared that giving and volunteering was placed in the national agenda.

The policy was initiated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to promote the spirit of giving and volunteering.

"I believe this is possible because giving is in the minds of most Thais," said Mr Paiboon.

A survey last year had found that more than two million people in the public service did volunteer work and more than seven million in the private sector, in addition to the large number of volunteers from the tens of thousands of civic organisations.

"After the tsunami in 2004, the business sector became more active in showing responsibility toward society. We have donations of 3.4 billion baht from the general public, and more involvement by aging and middle-aged people in volunteer work," said Mr Paiboon.

The government also launched a volunteer project which targets "eight million givings, 8,000 projects and 8,000 leave days" from government agencies and the general public to mark the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King this year.

Deputy Social Development and Human Security Minister Poldej Pinprateep said the ministry was working with the Finance Ministry to develop a system that supports volunteer work, such as tax exemptions for charity or volunteer organisations.

"At present there are about 400 charity organisations that are given tax reductions. We expect the number to increase to 1,000-2,000 organisations this year," he said.

The ministry also plans to push for a ''civil society promotion for development bill'', which would legally uphold the practices of giving, volunteering and other means to strengthen the civil sector.

Those who want to participate can download the application form at the website or ask for more details at the National Centre for Giving and Volunteering (NCGV).

© Bangkok Post

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