24 July 2024

The government must think laterally and ahead, otherwise Thailand will become bogged down and will not move forward. This has been the case over the past ten years and the people will continue to struggle to make ends meet, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said today when defending the government’s “digital wallet” scheme.

His statement follows results of an opinion survey, conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration,which shows that 34.66% of the respondents want the scheme to be scrapped and 68.85% say they would not upset with the government if it is.

Phumtham reaffirmed the government’s openness to opinions from all stakeholders regarding the scheme, as he said that the government believes that the scheme is necessary to help boost the Thai economy and that the government has anobligation to implement the project, as promised to the people during the election campaign last year.

He said that the government has not yet decided whether to issue a loan bill or an executive decree to fund the digital wallet scheme, adding that it will depend on the circumstances and other conditions.

The Bank of Thailand has reservations about a loan bill to seek funding for the scheme, on the grounds that the country’s economy is not in a crisis that would justify such a bill. The Office of the Attorney-General, meanwhile, noted that the government must comply strictly with fiscal discipline rules if it wants to borrow to fund the project.

Phumtham noted, however, that government agencies are required to respond positively to the government’s policies, adding that the government is not obliged to follow the observations of the Office of Attorney-General or the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which is yet to report formally its opinion of the digital wallet scheme.

In his latest X post, the deputy prime minister claims that economists are divided on the state of Thailand’s economy, with one group believing that the current economic situation is similar to that in 1997, when Thailand suffered the “tom yum kung” economic crisis, while the others insist that the economy is not currently in crisis.

He said that the government thinks ahead and wants to do something new, but it will proceed carefully, otherwise the country will never move forward.