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Unveiled: The Secret Behind Thailand’s 500 Billion Baht Digital Wallet Scheme – A Crisis or Opportunity?

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai addressed the media explaining that the legislation seeking approval to borrow 500 billion baht (Thai currency) for the development of a digital wallet scheme is yet to be presented before the Council of State. During post-cabinet meeting press entries, Mr. Phumtham highlighted the need for extensive deliberations on the issue at the digital wallet policy committee meeting, indicating that although the Council of State has shown a willingness to review the proposal, it doesn’t directly signal an affirmative nod.

The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the importance of gathering diversified opinions and potential options. Although an executive decree could enforce the borrowing strategy, he asserted that endorsing legislative scrutiny served the best interests. When inquired about the duration likely to be taken by the Council of State in examining the bill, he enthusiastically expressed confidence in an expedited review process, considering the policy’s importance to rejuvenate the economy.

He further added that any refinements to the ongoing scheme would be subjected to the council’s advisories. Once the council green-lights the bill, there won’t be additional amendments in the pipeline. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin unveiled the government’s intentions to introduce a bill authorizing a special loan of 500 billion baht. This fund allocation would stimulate the Pheu Thai Party’s leading policy, ensuring a seamless, law-abiding transition by initiating the bill’s journey through the Council of State by this year-end, subsequently reaching the Parliament’s desks for final approval.

The digital wallet scheme underwent a makeover, extending benefits to Thai citizens aged 16 and above with a monthly income of less than 70,000 baht and banking transactions below 500,000 baht. The revised eligibility bracket brings the potential beneficiaries down to a robust 50 million from the earlier envisioned 56 million. Setting a plan-B for the council’s concerns, Mr. Phumtham confirmed scheduling committee meetings.

He addressed queries around the potential discontinuation amidst significant resistance, suggesting that the path forward would be paved by analyzing the legal factualities. Adding to the growing debate, the Move Forward Party (MFP) expressed skepticism about the digital wallet scheme, blaming the government’s inadequate planning regarding the source of funds. “Anticipated problems could have been mitigated with better planning, negating the need for speculation around the Council of State’s approval or potential Constitutional Court intervention,” the MFP sarcastically ranted on their Facebook page.

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