Thailand’s digital wallet loan bill yet to reach Council of State

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai announced yesterday that a proposed bill, which aims to secure a loan of 500 billion baht for the digital wallet scheme, has not been presented to the Council of State yet.

The revelation came after the digital wallet policy committee meeting, where numerous issues were discussed. Despite the Council of State’s readiness to scrutinise the details, Phumtham clarified it did not imply a potential rejection of the bill.

The government, according to the deputy PM, is in the process of collecting as much feedback as possible. He conveyed the possibility of an executive decree concerning the planned borrowing but emphasised that having the loan bill reviewed by parliament was the preferred alternative.

When probed about the duration for the Council of State to evaluate the loan bill, the deputy prime minister expressed confidence that the council would expedite its examination due to the policy’s vital role in stimulating the economy. He also stated that any adjustments to the scheme would be based on the Council’s advice and that if the Council sanctioned the loan bill, no further adjustments would be necessary.

On November 10, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin declared that the government would propose a bill aimed at securing a special loan of 500 billion baht to finance the Pheu Thai Party’s flagship policy. The intention is to present the bill to the Council of State this year for verification of its legality before its submission to Parliament early next year.

The eligibility criteria for digital money recipients have been revised to include Thais who are 16 years old or older, earning under 70,000 baht per month, and having less than 500,000 baht in bank deposits. Based on this updated criteria, approximately 50 million people are eligible, a decrease from the original target of 56 million people, reported Bangkok Post.

Phumtham further mentioned that if the Council of State raised significant issues, the digital wallet committee would convene meetings. He assured that if the scheme encountered major problems, decisions would be made based on legal facts.

Meanwhile, the Move Forward Party continued its criticism of the digital wallet scheme, stating that the debate on the loan bill’s legality suggested that the government had not thoroughly considered the source of funds from the outset. The Party expressed its concerns via a Facebook post, questioning the government’s planning and preparation stages of the scheme.

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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.