Displaying his adept hand at bureaucratic navigation, Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, having come from the weekly Cabinet assembly, clarified to journalists that the bill announcing a colossal 500 billion baht loan to propel the digital wallet initiative was, in fact, yet to reach the Council of State’s boardroom.
The Friday blossomed with speculations being chased around the corridors of power like paper on the wind. Yes, at the digital wallet policy assembly, a host of concerns had indeed been tossed into the arena for examination, the weighty gaze of the Council of State included. But Phumtham was quick to point out that this was by no means emblematic of an impending dismissal of the bill.
He also took the opportunity to confirm that the government remained in a mode of active gathering from every relevant knowledge pool. Although there lay the possibility of an executive edict being passed on the impending borrowing, our Deputy Prime Minister believes a thorough parliamentary inspection of the loan bill would be the premier option.
The question of how long the Council would take to peruse the loan bill stirred a wisp of optimism. Encouraged, Phumtham posited that the Council’s wrap-up could be imminent; the gravity and potential economic boost of the policy would certainly necessitate hurried attention.
Will there be tweaks to the digital wallet scheme? That, Phumtham said, would depend on the Council’s advice. Assuming the Council dispensed an okay-to-go notice on the loan bill, the path would then be clear for a ‘no further adjustments’ directive.
It was Nov 10 when Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated that the current administration would table a bill for a one-off loan of a whopping 500 billion baht. This key move is intended to fuel the Pheu Thai Party’s flagship policy. Before the bill begins its journey to the parliament in the early months of the next calendar year, it would go through the Council of State to certify that it toes the legal line.
The criteria mentioning the individuals eligible to receive the digital currency has received a revision. Now, the benefits of the digital wallet would find their way to all Thai citizens who are 16 years or older, draw a monthly income less than 70k baht, and maintain bank deposits less than 500k baht. Initially aimed at enveloping 56 million individuals, the revised criteria are now speculated to cover around 50 million.
Should any massive qualms be raised by the Council, the digital wallet committee has geared up to convene. Asked whether the digital wallet scheme would be dismissed if it came across sizeable barriers, our Deputy Prime Minister responded that any decisions of such magnitude would hinge on concrete legal observations.
Meanwhile, the Move Forward Party (MFP) continued its barrage of critiques, maintaining that the legal debates surrounding the digital wallet scheme are clear indicators that the government has not given due deliberation to the funding source of the policy from the get-go.
With a sigh and a pointed note, they took to Facebook stating, “Had careful thought been applied from the beginning, we wouldn’t have to play guessing games about whether the Council of State would approve the bill or if it would have to go before the Constitutional Court for a final verdict.”