By Thai Newsroom Reporters
OVER 100 ECONOMISTS have jointly expressed opposition to the Pheu Thai-led government’s 10,000-baht digital wallet handout project which Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has reassured to put to work.
A total of 133 economists and university academics, either active or retired, ranging from former governors of the Bank of Thailand Tarisa Watanaket and Wirathai Santiprapop and former deputy governors of the central bank Achana Waikhuamdee and Bundit Nitthavorn to Chulalongkorn and Thammasat university economists, among others, have so far undersigned a joint statement in opposition to the Pheu Thai populist campaign pledged to be carried out in favour of an estimated 56 million Thais.
Each and every Thai national aged 16 years or over has been promised a sum of 10,000 baht in digital wallet to buy goods and services in a four-kilometre radius of their registered homes within a six-month period.
According to those dissenting academics, the government’s digital wallet project, primarily designed to stimulate domestic consumption on a short-term basis, would be ultimately unnecessary and avoidably attributed to an increase in inflation from this year’s 2.9% whilst public debt has increased to 61.6% of the country’s GDP and all state revenue has been calculated to only account for 13.7% of the GDP.
Increased public debt would be unduly passed onto the next generations since the government could not funnel as much as 560 billion baht from an annual budget to funding their digital wallet project and would only look to issue government bonds or borrow from state-owned banks, according to the statement.
The opponents contend that the 560 billion baht in digital wallet could otherwise finance relatively sustainable projects such as natural water management schemes designed to address flooding and drought in the provinces as well as digital infrastructure development and job-creating projects.
They say such a Pheu Thai populist campaign would evidently render social injustice if the rich were indiscriminately given the same amount of money as the poor.
Nevertheless, Srettha has categorically ruled out the possibility of the 10,000-baht digital wallet being handed out to certain selected groups of people and not to all the people in indiscriminate fashion.
The prime minister reassured he will definitely not change his mind about implementing the Pheu Thai populist campaign though, he said, he may take into account the variable views of those opposing academics and critics.
Top and Front Page: Representative images of 10,000-baht digital wallet handout project. Both photos: Thai Rath