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Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat Questions Mobile Phone Purchases with 10,000-Baht Digital Wallet Scheme

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Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat is championing a reconsideration of the Commerce Ministry’s decision to permit recipients of the 10,000-baht digital wallet payout to spend the money on mobile phones. According to Mr. Julapun, this choice doesn’t align with the scheme’s primary goal: boosting the local economy.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin shares these concerns. The reasoning is straightforward—most mobile phones sold in Thailand are either wholly imported or assembled from foreign components. Consequently, allowing the baht to flow into the purchase of these imported goods could dilute the intended economic stimulus.

Mr. Julapun, who chairs the committee monitoring the digital money scheme, voiced these issues during a recent meeting between the Finance and Commerce ministries and other relevant state agencies. The discussion focused specifically on the list of items eligible for purchase using the 10,000-baht digital funds. The core of the scheme lies in encouraging domestic spending, thus ensuring the funds circulate within the country and contribute to local economic growth.

Prime Minister Srettha himself called upon the Commerce Ministry to mull over its decision. It’s a critical point because when people spend these digital funds on imported goods, like mobile phones, the money essentially exits the national economy.

The digital wallet scheme stands out as a flagship policy of the Pheu Thai Party-led government. It aims to inject fresh momentum into a lagging economy by distributing 10,000 baht in digital currency to every citizen over 16 years old, provided their annual income doesn’t exceed 840,000 baht. This ambitious initiative is projected to cost the state around 500 billion baht.

To ensure the scheme’s success and coverage, the cabinet recently greenlit a proposal from the Budget Bureau to ramp up the budget deficit for the 2024 fiscal year by an additional 112 billion baht. This adjustment will bring the total budget for 2024 to a staggering 3.48 trillion baht—a 13.1% increase from the 2023 budget. Advocates within the government assure that this increment remains consistent with their medium-term financial strategy.

In sum, while the digital wallet scheme holds the promise of revitalizing the economy, the discussion around what purchases should be eligible under the scheme continues. The ongoing debate underscores the delicate balance between stimulating local economic activities and ensuring that government funds are used in ways that maximize their intended impact.


  1. Sarah J June 17, 2024

    It’s ridiculous that the government thinks it can dictate what people spend their money on. If people need new phones, let them buy phones!

    • Paul M June 17, 2024

      But Sarah, the point is to boost the local economy. Spending on imported phones doesn’t do that.

      • Sarah J June 17, 2024

        Paul, a lot of local businesses sell phones. This money can support them too, right?

      • Educator123 June 17, 2024

        Sarah, local businesses might sell the phones, but the real economic benefit leaves the country when those phones are bought.

    • Tom June 17, 2024

      I agree with Sarah. What if people need a phone to search for jobs or run their small business? Flexibility in spending is crucial.

      • Sarah J June 17, 2024

        Thank you, Tom. Sometimes tech access is vital for economic participation.

        • Paul M June 17, 2024

          You’re missing the broader picture. There are other ways to facilitate tech access without this scheme.

  2. Lisa June 17, 2024

    It’s alarming how the government wants to control people’s spending. What’s next, they decide what we eat?

    • environmentalist92 June 17, 2024

      If it’s for the greater good and supports local businesses, I’m fine with it.

  3. Michael Davis June 17, 2024

    The government’s approach makes sense. We need to support local industries first, not foreign manufacturers.

    • TechGuy June 17, 2024

      True, but often foreign tech is more advanced and essential. Local industries should also look towards improving their products.

    • Sarah J June 17, 2024

      But Michael, the market dictates the demand. By imposing such restrictions, is the government not overstepping?

  4. Grower134 June 17, 2024

    As a small business owner, I support restricting the funds to enhance local economic activity.

    • Tom June 17, 2024

      How would restricting phone purchases affect local businesses like yours, Grower134?

  5. Larry D June 17, 2024

    Seems like another poorly thought-out policy. Import restrictions never really work.

  6. Rebecca June 17, 2024

    I get why they want to restrict certain items, but it feels paternalistic.

    • EcoWarrior June 17, 2024

      Sometimes paternalism isn’t a bad thing if it supports sustainable economic practices.

  7. Paul M June 17, 2024

    Sure, the digital wallet is a great idea, but where’s the guarantee that the shops themselves won’t mark up prices knowing there’s a sudden influx of spending power?

    • Michael Davis June 17, 2024

      That’s a valid concern. There should be monitoring to prevent price gouging.

  8. Jess June 17, 2024

    I personally think restricting purchases makes sense. It ensures money stays within the national economy.

    • Sarah J June 18, 2024

      Jess, but isn’t this a bit too much control? What if the restriction extends beyond phones?

  9. David Lee June 17, 2024

    Encouraging domestic spending is good, but not everyone needs to buy more ‘local goods’. People should have the freedom to decide.

  10. Grower134 June 17, 2024

    The policy isn’t perfect, but if we don’t support our own economy, who will?

    • Educator123 June 18, 2024

      Exactly, Grower134! Economic patriotism is crucial in these times.

  11. EcoWarrior June 18, 2024

    Buying local isn’t just about economics. It’s about environmental impact too. Imported goods increase our carbon footprint.

  12. Tom June 18, 2024

    What about tech startups in Thailand? Will they suffer because consumers can’t buy necessary tech?

    • Sarah J June 18, 2024

      Great point, Tom! Tech is crucial for innovation and progress.

  13. Lisa June 18, 2024

    These restrictions make me feel like the government has no faith in people’s judgment.

  14. Larry D June 18, 2024

    It’s all about control. Next, they’ll tell us what color to paint our houses.

    • Rebecca June 18, 2024

      Larry, that’s a bit dramatic. There’s a difference between guidelines for economic stimulus and outright control over personal life choices.

  15. Paul M June 18, 2024

    One thing’s for sure: this debate is far from over. Everyone’s got a stake in how this policy pans out.

  16. Nigel June 20, 2024

    Sorry to be so ignorant but I want to know how the digital wallet will work? Is a smart phone going to be needed ? The only ones in my Thai family who have a smartphone are me, a foreigner so I don’t qualify for the scheme, and one of my wife’s sisters who does not live near us. Mum Dad, my wife and her older sister do not have smartphones.
    and where and how can the wallet be used? we are very rural and only recently have a few newer shops opened that have the tech. eg payment by bank card or QRcode. I see some market traders now offering QR option too but I rarely see it being used by customers. Cash is still king here! But that requires the customer to have not only a smartphone but a mobile banking app and know how to use it. Honestly can’t see that with my Thai family. Mother is illiterate.

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