PM Srettha: Digital wallet scheme will go ahead despite postponement

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The eagerly anticipated 500 billion baht digital wallet handout scheme, publicised as the government’s economic lifeline, faces an unexpected delay.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced yesterday, January 19, that the launch of the 500-billion-baht initiative will be postponed pending an inquiry by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

Brushing off rumours of incorporating the scheme into the 2025 budget, PM Srettha asserted that the government will not be looking that far ahead at this point.

The move comes after Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornviwat hinted at a potential delay until June during discussions on January 17.

The Bangkok-born prime minister expressed confidence in addressing the NACC’s concerns.

“I understand their concerns and can explain if they can pinpoint where such concerns lie.”

Dismissing the Move Forward Party MP Sirikanya Tansakul’s suggestion of scrapping the scheme, the 61 year old PM cleared such suspicions, affirming that the scheme will go ahead.

The government, armed with data showcasing the scheme’s viability, assured the public that the handout would be corruption-free. Thanawat Phonwichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, outlined the economic impact, projecting a growth rate of 4 to 4.5% if the scheme is implemented, compared to the baseline of 3.2%.

“The economy is forecast to grow by 4.2% with a 400-billion-baht spending on the scheme and by 3.5% with a reduced spending of 160 billion baht.”

Thanawat urged the government to consider the scheme’s benefits in light of external factors affecting the country’s stagnant growth, reported Bangkok Post.

With the digital wallet initiative aimed at providing 10,000 baht each to 50 million people aged 16 and over via a dedicated app, the government faces a crucial decision regarding the spending level. As the flagship policy for economic stimulation, the digital wallet scheme aims to invigorate the economy and foster growth amid challenging times.

In related news, Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat confirmed this week that the digital wallet scheme, originally planned for a May launch, will be postponed.

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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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