In his dual role as Minister of Finance, Srettha reiterated the importance of forthcoming deliberations pertaining to tourism stimulus packages, scheduled to grace the Cabinet meetings set for today and the subsequent Tuesday. Predominant talking points centered around the management of debt, an issue borne out of both official government loans and clandestine loans from the black-market sector.
A concrete plan to handle official loans is expected to be unveiled by November 28, and black-market loans will be in the spotlight by December 12. This comes in light of the critical fiscal situation within Thailand as its household debt skyrocketed by an alarming 11.5% this year. This surge has resulted in an average household in Thailand bearing the weight of a debt exceeding 500,000 baht, marking a twelve-year high.
When confronted with an opinion poll reflecting public sentiment opposing the government’s ambit to borrow capital to fund its digital wallet scheme, Srettha responded confidently that overall consensus still favored the government’s direction. Moreover, the conversation traversed through the territory of Thailand’s sluggish GDP growth, which stood at a mere 1.5% during this year’s third quarter. This leaves Thailand lagging behind its regional peers such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, with their GDP growth clocking in at 3.3%, 4.94%, and 5.33% respectively.
Srettha remained optimistic, underscoring that the digital wallet scheme, tourism stimulus packages, “soft power” policies, and initiatives to tackle black-market debt, all serve as policy vehicles aimed at reinvigorating the economy and turbocharging GDP growth.
Knee deep in the quagmire of an underperforming economy, which fell short of the 2% growth projection by the House of Representatives Secretariat, the implementation of the digital wallet project became more pressing. This initiative allows for 10,000-baht payments and has been fast-tracked to counterbalance the disappointing third-quarter GDP results.
Defining the beneficiaries of the support scheme, Srettha clarified that individuals earning under 70,000 baht per month qualify for both the digital wallet and the e-Refund projects. These measures have been designed to lessen the financial burden on the citizens and stimulate the economy, providing the catalyst required to return the country’s growth figures back to the positive direction.