Govt to boost 2024 budget by 122 billion baht for handout scheme

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According to the Budget Bureau Chief, the Thai government plans to increase the 2024 fiscal budget by 122 billion baht to support its primary handout initiative. This announcement follows the recent approval of a delayed 3.48 trillion baht budget.

The government is continuing to push forward with fiscal stimulus plans, aiming to distribute 500 billion baht by the fourth quarter of this year, a cornerstone policy of the ruling Pheu Thai party.

Budget Bureau Director Chalermphol Pensoot stated that the proposed budget increase requires Cabinet approval, which would raise the total budget to 3.6 trillion baht.

Efforts are underway to secure funding for this scheme. The administration has already agreed to extend the 2025 budget deficit by 152.7 billion baht, resulting in a total budget of 3.752 trillion baht for the next fiscal year.

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Despite the criticism that has risen from economists and former central bank governors, who deem the programme fiscally irresponsible. The government maintains a strong stance on the stimulus plan, arguing that the measure is essential to revitalise the struggling economy.

The state planning agency revised its 2024 economic outlook, reducing the forecast to a range of 2.0% to 3.0%, down from the previous estimate of 2.2% to 3.2%. This adjustment comes despite first-quarter growth surpassing expectations at 1.5%.

Last month, the finance ministry lowered its 2024 growth forecast to 2.4%, from an earlier 2.8%. However, it noted that growth could reach 3.3% if the stimulus plan is implemented in the fourth quarter of this year as intended.

The digital wallet programme, a key feature of the stimulus package, aims to provide 10,000 baht to each of 50 million people for spending in their local areas within six months. The central bank had suggested focusing the programme on vulnerable groups.

The government previously indicated that the scheme would be funded by the 2024 and 2025 fiscal budgets and through the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, reported Bangkok Post.

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