October 5, 2023
BANGKOK – The panel members include:
– Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, chairman
– Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai
– Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara
– Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul
– Digital Economy and Society Minister Prasert Chantararuangthong
– Deputy Finance Minister Krisada Chinavicharana
– Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat
Other panel members would be permanent secretaries from concerned ministries, the secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, the governor of the Bank of Thailand, as well as representatives from the Budget Bureau, the Office of Council of State and the Royal Thai Police.
Julapun told a press conference that the formation of the committee was a suggestion from the Finance Ministry.
Julapun said the ministry saw the need for a special committee to take charge of the project as it was very important and it would need a huge budget allocation, so it must be implemented with prudence.
He said the panel would be in charge of the project from the start to evaluating the results of the policy.
The panel would consider details on how to implement the policy and the source of funds for distribution.
The panel would monitor and prevent corruption and would evaluate the success of the project, Julapun said.
The leader of the ruling coalition, the Pheu Thai Party, had promised during its election campaign to hand out 10,000 baht to all Thais aged 16 years and above, via a digital wallet for shopping.
“The committee was expected to convene its first meeting within this week,” Julapun said.
He said during the first meeting, the panel would formally receive the policy of distributing 10,000 baht via digital wallet and it would set up a subcommittee to work on various issues.
Julapun said he expected to be the chairman of the subcommittee, which would study various details for the main panel to approve.
He said the subpanel would need about two or three weeks to gather information on key points of the policy for the full committee to consider.
Julapun said the government had already consulted the BOT and found that the policy would not violate the fiscal act.
He said the distribution of the money would definitely be based on blockchain technology as it would be the most secure.
Julapun denied that the government would have to raise the public debt ceiling to accommodate the digital wallet policy.
He added that the subpanel would also study expanding the spending area from a 4-kilometre radius of their homes in provinces.
Many rural people have voiced concerns that their houses are in remote areas with no shops in a 4km radius of their houses.
Reacting to concerns about most of the money from the digital wallet policy ending up in the pockets of large stores, not local and small businesses, Julapun did not rule out the possibility, saying the government could not discriminate against anyone.
He said the government would control only two things — the six-month deadline for spending the handout, and where the money could be spent.
He added that details of conditions for spending from the digital wallet would be drafted within this month so that the policy could be enforced from the first of February next year.
He added that if the system could not be developed in time, a delay of one month might be possible.
He added that the government would have no problem in finding money for the policy.
He denied speculation that the digital wallet policy was the main reason for the depreciation of the baht.
He explained that the weakening baht was caused mainly by the increase in the key policy rate by 25 basis points to stem inflation.
The government is confident that the digital wallet policy would spur economic growth by 5% next year, Julapun said.