Thailand persists with 10,000-baht digital money giveaway to reboot economy

Photo: Bangkok Post

The Thailand government is standing firm on its decision to proceed with the 10,000-baht digital money giveaway, despite various calls for its reconsideration. The government maintains that while the specifics of the project can be tweaked, the fundamental principle of using it as a tool to reboot the economy remains steadfast.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, the Thai economy has been experiencing a slowdown for nearly a decade. The need for a potent mechanism to stimulate the economy is critical, lest the country faces a bleak financial future.

Drawing a comparison, the deputy prime minister highlighted Udon Thani’s booming economy before the 2014 military coup that overthrew the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The province, located in the northeastern region of Thailand, was a bustling hub of activity attracting a significant influx of people from neighbouring Laos.

Unfortunately, following the coup, economic stagnation set in and many small to medium enterprises ceased operations. This period of economic inactivity post-coup has been referred to by the government as Thailand’s lost decade.

Addressing concerns about the estimated 560 billion baht required to fund the digital wallet scheme, the deputy prime minister stated that if borrowing is necessary, it should not pose a problem. He cited the example of the previous government, which borrowed a trillion baht without any repercussions.

Economic stimulation

He emphasised that any loan taken for this purpose should strictly be allocated towards economic stimulation as originally intended.

The 69 year old deputy prime minister welcomed the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s (NACC) initiative to establish a panel to study the government’s handout scheme and solicit the views of experts and the public.

Opponents of the scheme argued that the economy doesn’t need such a cash infusion and that the funds could be put to better use elsewhere. Some have even suggested means-testing to ensure the money is distributed only to those who truly need it.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, while visiting Udon Thani, assured his supporters that the digital money giveaway will proceed as planned in February, reported Bangkok Post.

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke supported the policy with findings from a study led by economist Suwit Sapwitthayasiri. The study revealed that the scheme has the potential to boost economic growth from 4.73% next year to 5.54% in 2027.

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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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