January 23, 2024
BANGKOK – A leading economist declared on Monday that Thailand is poised to achieve a 3% growth even if the government’s 500-billion baht handout scheme was delayed.
Somchai Phakapaswiwat, a top academic on the economy, said a delay in the 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme would have no impact on the 2024 GDP growth as it will not have much weight on the economy. In fact, he said, the Thai economy was strong enough and had the potential to expand beyond the 3% projection.
The government’s announcement that the digital wallet scheme might not meet the initial May deadline for payouts has stirred concerns. Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat cited the need to study opposing opinions from government agencies, especially the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Despite the delay in implementing the fiscal 2024 budget, scheduled for enactment in May, Somchai expressed confidence in the country’s economic expansion. Normally, a budget bill is enacted before the fiscal year starts in October of the previous year.
“Despite the delay in implementing the 2024 budget, the economy could still expand well, so I believe that even without the digital wallet money, Thailand’s economic situation will remain unchanged,” Somchai said.
While waiting for the launch of the digital wallet scheme, Somchai suggested that the government set up tourism and export promotions.
“There is still a vast room for tourism to expand. The digital wallet scheme is just a stimulus measure that the government has added on, in line with its election promises,” Somchai said.
He said that he cannot tell if the digital wallet scheme has hit a dead-end because even the Council of State has refused to give a “yes” or “no” to the project.
He said the government will need to evaluate the situation on its own based on the Council of State’s suggestion to determine if the 500 billion baht needed for the project can be borrowed legally and whether it would meet the Financial Discipline Act.
He said the only way the project can go ahead is if the government can borrow 500 billion baht after proving that the country is facing an economic crisis and that the scheme will not affect the country’s financial discipline.