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Billion Baht Crisis: The Epic Battle Inside Thailand’s Financial Committee – Who Will Emerge Triumphant?

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In the aftermath of the committee meeting, Srettha took the time to share a detailed outline of the project’s strategy; explaining its necessity, objectives, prerequisites, potential hurdles, and most importantly, the financing source for the project. To propel the project forward, a loan, potentially amounting to as much as 500 billion baht, could be facilitated through a royal decree or a loan authorisation act.

However, before Srettha could address the media at the scheduled 2 pm conference, a feverish debate broke out during the 11.15 am committee meeting. At the heart of the discussion was the borrowed fund legislation, perceived as a critical tool to secure much-needed monetary support for the project.

First to express his unease was the Bank of Thailand (BOT) governor, Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput. He underscored the need to reconcile potential legal conflicts with the 1958 Currency Act, particularly with regards to clearly delineating funding sources and matching assets to back them.

Moreover, the BOT expressed concerns that authorising a loan worth 500 billion baht can potentially inflate the risks of price increases in the looming year, advising prudence and ongoing supervision.

Parallelly, the secretary-general of the Office of the Council of State stressed the necessity of comprehensive agreement and consultation before a loan authorising legislation is drafted. The suggestion was to allow comprehensive evaluation and conscious decision-making process, weighing varied standpoints to avert future complications.

A delegate at the meeting recounted disharmony over several prerequisites, particularly those linked with the committee’s expedited approval processes. The immediate review and approval of several agenda items caused unease over the possibility of incomplete consideration and reasoning, sparking internal discord within the committee.

Meanwhile, the BOT governor critiqued the scarcity of comprehensive rationale behind the provided information, resulting in the BOT’s decision to abstain from the decision-making process.

Finally, it was left to Srettha to determine a conclusion for the new constraints applied to the 10,000-baht digital wallet. He declared that funding to Thai residents who are 16 years and older will only be allotted for those earning less than 70,000 baht per month and holding less than 500,000 baht in their bank accounts. This decision will affect up to 50 million individuals.

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