By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER Julapun Amornvivat said today (Nov.15) the Pheu Thai-led government has no such thing as a Plan B which might otherwise be applied in lieu of the contentious digital wallet campaign.
Julapun was apparently responding to the advice earlier given by Move Forward leader Chaithawat Tulathon that the government apply a Plan B as an alternative to the 10,000-baht digital wallet project if it is finally aborted by law.
The deputy finance minister confirmed that the populist handout campaign has been well calculated to not only promote domestic consumption on a short-term basis but boost the country’s GDP on a long-term basis.
The Pheu Thai-led government is being readied to respond to criticism over legislation to be filed at parliament in pursuit of a sum of 500 billion baht in loan to finance the digital wallet project, Julapun said.
It remains to be seen whether the government could finally borrow the sought-after 500 billion baht loan from domestic financial sources or foreign ones or both.
Move Forward MPs have taken Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to task for failing to keep his word when he earlier pledged to never borrow the money to finance the populist handout campaign but to allocate a corresponding sum from the government’s annual budget or find some supplementary revenue to fund it.
But Julapun contended that the digital wallet project has been considerably amended following suggestions earlier given by academics and critics to make it more suitable with the country’s current economic environment.
“Given an economic recession and a setback in our competitiveness, we are bound to address our sagging national economy by restructuring and strengthening it with the help of digital technology so we could meet challenges of the changing world economy,” the deputy finance minister put it.
Srettha has earlier announced that the Pheu Thai populist handout campaign will benefit as many as 50 million Thai nationals, each of whom will be given 10,000 baht in digital wallet for use in a six-month period beginning next May and within the boundaries of their respective home districts.
However, those who may currently earn a minimum of 70,000 baht in monthly income or have a minimum of 500,000 baht in bank account will not be entitled to the 10,000-baht digital wallet but will be instead provided with an e-refund project under which they may buy a maximum of 50,000 baht in market value of merchandise in six months’ time in their home districts and consequently have their personal income tax refunded.
An image of Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat overlaid on a background of digital wallet scheme, above, and placed next to it, Front Page. Top photo: Thai Rath, Front Page photo: Matichon