Thai academic warns of economic downside from government’s THB10,000 handout scheme

Researcher Nonarit Bisonyabut urged the new administration to reduce spending and utilise some of the money to create social welfare for the people instead.

The Nation

The Nation



An academic has voiced concerns over the government’s pledge to hand out 10,000 baht as a digit wallet to everyone aged above 16 years, warning that the high cost of that policy could damage Thailand’s economy. PHOTO: THE NATION

September 14, 2023

BANGKOK – Coalition leader Pheu Thai had made the 10,000-baht giveaway promise, using blockchain technology, to voters in the run-up to the May 14 general election.

Pheu Thai had earlier said that the scheme would cost a total of 560 billion baht.

The high cost of the proposed scheme has triggered criticism from academics and experts since the time it was first announced. Among the critics is Nonarit Bisonyabut, a researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute Foundation.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Thai Journalists Association, Nonarit said that he viewed Pheu Thai’s handout policy as only a short-term economic stimulus.

Nonarit explained that before stimulating the economy, they would need to ascertain how much money is actually required to be supplied to the economy.

To determine the proper figure, he suggested comparing the actual growth of the Thai economy to the anticipated figure.

“The Thai economy should have expanded by 3.7–3.8%. However, the most recent figures from the central bank only showed a 2.8% growth. Hence, there is a deficit of one percentage point,” he said.

“The value of the one percentage point of the Thai economy, which is roughly worth a total of 17 trillion baht, would be between 100 and 200 billion baht. Therefore, a total of 560 billion baht is excessive and leaves Thailand at risk of running into economic problems like inflation,” he explained.

Nonarit urged the new administration to reduce spending and utilise some of the money to create social welfare for the people instead.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, however, does not share the academic’s scepticism as he believes the total amount of money that would be injected via the scheme was necessary to bolster the economy, which had been hampered by the pandemic and the global economic downturn.

Srettha, who is also the finance minister, said in his policy statement to Parliament on Monday that the new government plans to initiate immediate and short-term economic stimulus measures, including the 10,000-baht handout, to boost the economy, which he labelled “a sick person”.

The premier assured lawmakers that his policies would not jeopardise the country’s fiscal stability and would not endanger the capacity of the government to repay its debts.

Meanwhile, Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat asserted that the government would not borrow any more money to implement the handout scheme.

Pheu Thai’s centrepiece policy carries a big question mark, as the party has not clarified where precisely the money would come from and the areas of the economy where people could spend the money.

Nonarit advised the Pheu Thai Party to consider the “timing” and “size” of policies before implementing them.

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