By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THERE IS MORE THAN ONE way for the Pheu Thai-led government to adequately finance their 10,000-baht digital wallet project, confirmed Prommin Lertsuridej, secretary-general to the prime minister, today (Oct.13).
Prommin was apparently responding to doubts expressed publicly as to where the government could potentially find a sum of 560 billion baht to fund the much-heralded populist project promised during the Pheu Thai electoral campaign earlier this year.
Prommin said one way to find enough funding for the digital wallet project is to slash budgets for varied government agencies or suspend any planned costly procurement and construction projects in the current fiscal year during which an estimated 3.3 trillion baht in total of the government’s annual budget may be given.
The preferred cuts in government budgets would likely include government agencies’ construction projects and weapon systems procurement projects, among other planned expenditures, according to the secretary-general to the prime minister.
Prommin declined to say how much of the government’s annual budget for fiscal 2024 could possibly be slashed and funnelled to funding the digital wallet project.
Another way, he said, is to request certain government agencies to “provide” a range of 200 billion to 300 billion baht in funding for the digital wallet project on behalf of the whole government.
However, he stopped short of pinpointing any particular government agencies or what he meant by “provide” in relation to the sought-after money.
The other way, he said, is to directly borrow some money from financial sources such as the Government Savings Bank.
A previous Thai Rak Thai government headed by Thaksin Shinawatra as former prime minister had borrowed a sum of 77 billion baht in loan from the state-owned GSB to finance their Village Fund project nearly two decades ago, according to Prommin.
He said the government might eventually pick either one way or two or three ways altogether to effectively implement the populist handout project.
He categorically denied that the 10,000-baht digital wallet project might probably compromise the state treasury and financial disciplinary principles whilst, he said, the government may eventually bear an additional 1.7 trillion baht in public debt without breaking a legal limit of 70% of the country’s GDP.
The 10,000-baht digital wallet project to which each and every Thai aged 16 years or over is entitled for purchases of goods and services via their digital wallet within a six-month period and a four-kilometre radius of their registered home could potentially not only boost domestic consumption but encourage job creation, stimulate the manufacturing of goods and services, especially those in industrial sector, reduce household debt among the people nationwide and increase the country’s GDP, Prommin said.
Prommin is invariably known as one of a couple of right-hand men of de facto Pheu Thai boss Thaksin.
The other right-hand man for the deposed prime minister/convicted “sickly inmate” who has allegedly managed to stay at Police Hospital in lieu of Bangkok Remand Prison is Pheu Thai wheeler/dealer Bhumtham Wechayachai, concurrently performing as deputy prime minister-cum-commerce minister.
Prommin Lertsuridej and the digital wallet project. Top photo: Thai Rath, Front Page photo: Matichon