Overview of the Delay
Thailand has hit pause on its proposed digital money scheme, initially set for a February 2024 rollout. The initiative aims to distribute 10,000 baht (~$274) to citizens over 16 years old to boost the national economy. Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat cited the need for additional time to refine the system’s security as the primary reason for the delay, assuring the launch within the first quarter of 2024.
Skepticism and Call for Probe
The postponement has garnered criticism, spearheaded by former Thai Senator Rosana Tositrakul. Critics, calling for a probe by the country’s electoral commission, are questioning the legality and financial backbone of the scheme, especially with the Thai government contemplating utilizing the national budget for the digital handout.
The digital wallet scheme, championed by the Pheu Thai Party, comes with a hefty price tag of 548 billion baht ($15 billion). The government’s initial projections touted a 5% economic growth spurred by this initiative. Amornvivat also highlighted that the anticipated rise in tax revenue from the stimulated economic activity could offset some of the program’s cost.
The sub-committee helming the program is yet to finalize the source of funding. The potential of raising debt to finance the initiative has brought forth serious concerns among critics, further fueling the call for a legal examination of the proposed digital money handout.
As discussions continue to unfold, the Thai government’s delay aims to address security concerns while opposition leaders leverage this pause to question the scheme’s legality and financial viability. The anticipation builds as the nation watches closely how the government will address the concerns before the revised launch date.