It was a crowded day at Government House on November 10 when Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin began outlining the government’s ambitious plans for a digital wallet scheme. A buzz of whispered conversations ceased as the listeners strained to catch every word about the proposed funding through a staggering 500-billion-baht loan (Photo: Chanat Katanyu).
However, despite the grand scheme, a recent poll found that a significant majority of Thai citizens aren’t too thrilled with the government’s plan, though they are still in favor of the proposed 10,000-baht handout. This finding arrived from a comprehensive survey coordinated by the well-known National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll. They conducted telephone interviews with 1,310 people across the country from November 13 to November 16, covering a wide range of ages, education levels, occupations, and income groups.
The respondents were asked to voice their opinions after Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin delivered an insightful statement on November 10 about the detailed structure of the handout programme. According to the proposed plan, the 10,000-baht handout is targeted towards Thai citizens aged 16 and older who earn less than 70,000 baht per month or have under 500,000 baht in bank deposits. As per these criteria, the estimated eligible population stands at 50 million, a slight decrease from the proposed 56 million beneficiaries.
When asked about their eligibility, an overwhelming 79.85% of the respondents confirmed their eligibility, 11.68% expressed uncertainty, and 8.47% believed that they were ineligible. Interestingly, among the ineligible and unsure respondents, a surprising 68.18% were not disappointed about the potential handout, 11.36% were mildly disappointed, while 8.71% and 7.58% expressed significant and extreme disappointment, respectively. Meanwhile, 4.17% remained indifferent.
Regarding the eligibility criteria, a majority of respondents (66.33%) agreed with the government, with 40.53% wholeheartedly accepting it and 25.80% somewhat agreeing. Contrarily, 20.30% were completely against the criteria and 12.67% somewhat disagreed. The rest, a mere 0.69%, did not want to express their opinion or were not interested.
The government’s stipulation of allowing the handout to be used only for food, drinks, and consumer goods sparked a somewhat evenly split opinion with 50.69% disagreeing and 49.16% agreeing, while 0.15% refrained from answering or showed uninterest.
Moreover, the government’s plan to obtain a 500-billion-baht loan to fund the programme was met with significant opposition, with 50.69% vehemently opposing it and an additional 18.70% dissenting mildly. However, 14.89% moderately agreed with it, and only 13.35% strongly supported it, while 2.37% remained indifferent or did not express their opinions.
In conclusion, after listening to Mr. Srettha’s detailed explanation of the 10,000-baht digital money handout policy, the nation seemed divided with 51.08% in agreement with the policy and 48.16% in disagreement, with 0.76% refusing to state a stance or showing no interest.
Notably, and somewhat ominously, Jatuporn remarked that such a wallet policy could potentially inflict serious damage. In the sea of mixed public responses, it seems the government has some serious pondering to do about their digital wallet scheme.