Picture this: a futuristic utopia where your very own digital wallet, filled to the brim with 10,000 baht, awaits to catapult the Thai economy into stratospheric growth. Yes, folks, the sounds you hear are the engines of the Thai government’s audacious 500-billion-baht digital wallet extravaganza revving-up, albeit with a tantalizing pause as the eagle-eyed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) puts on its spectacles for a thorough examination.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin breezed into the scene yesterday, confirming the slight setback. Like the calm before the storm, the time frame of this small delay is as mysterious as the Prime Minister’s poker face, depending on the revelations of the NACC’s magnifying glass over the plan. Flitting aside gossip about the scheme’s cameo in the 2025 budget, Mr. Srettha quips with a hint of mirth, “We’re not looking that far ahead at this point.”
While Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornviwat dropped hints of a possible June debut for the scheme, our plot thickened when the digital wallet policy connoisseurs rescheduled their mid-January tea party, their appetites whetted by the impending study.
The Prime Minister stands ready, a knight in shining armor, to parry any thrusts of concern from the NACC and its band of merry agencies. A confident Mr. Srettha assured us, “I understand their concerns and can explain if they can pinpoint where such concerns lie.”
Despite the murmurs of the Move Forward Party’s MP, Sirikanya Tansakul, regarding the NACC’s prying eyes possibly shelving the anticipated bonanza, our Prime Minister waved off such preposterous notions, affirming with a steely gaze, “That’s out of the question. At this point, we’re moving ahead.”
With an air of a seasoned magician, the Prime Minister alludes to a trove of data stashed up his sleeve, data which supposedly crowns the handout scheme as genius, with promises of untainted, transparent execution.
Enter the eminent Thanawat Phonwichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, with projections that could make an economist’s heart skip a beat. Without the digital wallet scheme, we’re looking at a respectable growth of over 3.2% this year. Buckle up, though, as with the scheme, we could witness economic growth rocketing to a jaw-dropping 4-4.5% over the current and following year!
Thanawat, armed with his calculator of wisdom, suggests a spending spree of 400 billion baht could turbocharge growth to 4.2%, while a more conservative hurl of 160 billion baht still revs up the economy by a neat 3.5%. However, like the master of cliffhangers that he is, Thanawat points out the villain of the story: external factors leading to stagnant growth.
To reach the promised land of 4% growth next year, the government must unleash fresh stimulus spells and investment incantations, he stresses. While the slow-burn epics such as the Land Bridge megaproject and the Eastern Economic Corridor policy simmer in the background, waiting for their moment to dazzle in the spotlight.
Stay tuned as this cliffhanger unfolds, with a digital wallet fest hoped to rain money upon 50 million people aged 16 and over, a thumbs-up from the NACC permitting. Will this be the masterstroke that propels growth or will it be a tale of cautionary restraint? Tick-tock, the digital wallet saga continues…