11 July 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has urged members of the public who agree with the government’s digital wallet scheme to speak out openly and to not let opponents drown out their voices.

During his visit to the northern province of Phitsanuloke today (Saturday), the prime minister said he disagrees with opponents of the scheme, adding that the government is, however, receptive to divergent opinions.

Citing the controversial scheme, he said that, if a family has 3-5 members who are over 16 years old who each receives 10,000 baht, they will get a combined 30,000-50,000 baht, which is a substantial sum of money that can be used for the development of their community.

There are, though, numerous people who disagree with the scheme, he said, as he urged supporters to speak up, not just about the digital wallet scheme, but also if they agree with the government’s policy to cut power and fuel prices.

“We are humans and we seek moral support, like anyone else,” said the prime minister, adding that some of his delegation wanted to stay home with their families during the weekend, but they have come to this province to see the people and to listen to their problems.

Previously, a group of 99 academics, economists and two former governors of the Bank of Thailand issued a statement expressing disagreement with the digital wallet scheme and demanding that it be scrapped, claiming that would not be worth the huge expenditure.

Under the digital wallet scheme, every Thai national who is 16 and older will receive a one-time payment of 10,000 baht, to be wired into their digital wallet for spending within six months on products and services in shops within a 4km radius of their residence or in state-run Blue Flag shops.  It is estimated that the scheme, which is expected to be launched early next year, will cost the taxpayer about 560 billion baht, part of which will be funded with borrowing from a state-owned bank.