Pheu Thai Party dismisses corruption concerns on 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme

Photo courtesy of The Nation Thailand

The Pheu Thai Party dismissed a warning by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) concerning the government’s proposed 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme. Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a Pheu Thai list-MP, maintained that the government is open to feedback from all quarters and that the NACC’s concerns are premature as the scheme has not been implemented yet.

“If the digital wallet scheme is delayed as a result of the NACC’s warnings, the agency must respond to questions from the people.”

The NACC had cautioned the government about potential corruption and legal issues tied to the scheme while stating that the economy is not in a crisis yet. The digital wallet scheme is a key policy of the Pheu Thai-led government to boost the economy, aiming to give 10,000 baht (US$278) to 50 million Thai citizens.

However, the scheme’s legality has been questioned as the government plans to seek a 500-billion-baht (US$13.9 billion) loan to fund it, contradicting the Pheu Thai’s election campaign promise of not resorting to loans, reported Bangkok Post.

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Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC’s secretary-general, shared findings from a study of the scheme, suggesting potential exploitation by corrupt elements. Niwatchai warned that the scheme could favour certain parties, politicians, or business groups, and corruption could occur during its implementation without clear methods to ensure all vulnerable groups benefit.

Niwatchai also voiced concerns about the financial burden of the scheme and whether it is worth creating a 500-billion-baht debt. The NACC further warned of legal risks, including laws related to financial discipline, treasury reserves, and a constitutional law mandating inspection of Pheu Thai’s campaign pledge by the Election Commission.

Election promises

Sorawong Thienthong, Pheu Thai Secretary-General, rejected claims of discrepancies between the party’s election promises and parliament announcements. The Pheu Thai promised during the campaign to provide 10,000 baht to every citizen aged 16 or above, covering 56 million people. However, it later added conditions benefitting only 50 million people.

The Pheu Thai stated that the scheme would be financed from the budget during its campaign but now plans to raise 500 billion baht in loans to fund the scheme.

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke stated that the digital wallet scheme is essential as it will infuse cash into the economy, allow low-income earners access to financial resources, and help the country avert an actual economic crisis.

“Currently, commercial banks are very strict in extending loans, which results in a lack of liquidity in the system and a lack of purchasing power and deflation. Without any action taken to address the problem, Thailand may face a real economic crisis.”

Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a member of the Palang Pracharath Party, threatened to request the NACC to investigate the government if it insists on implementing the handout scheme, initially scheduled for May.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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