In September, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin promised a monetary giveaway of 560 billion baht ($21.5 billion) to citizens in a bid to revive the country’s economy. However, just over a month later, he has put the digital wallet plan on the back burner amid mounting criticism from opposition leaders.
Thailand’s ambitious ‘digital wallet’ plan to revitalize economy
The ruling Pheu Thai Party’s digital wallet scheme aimed to hand out 10,000 baht ($274) each to some 50 million Thai citizens aged 16 and above. The goal was to stimulate the country’s struggling economy and resurrect the crisis-stricken real estate market.
While Thailand’s planned digital wallet scheme was scheduled to kick off in February 2024, the government has reportedly delayed its launch. According to Thailand’s deputy finance minister Julapun Amornvivat, the government needs more time to build and strengthen the security of the system underpinning the digital grant wallet.
According to local media reports, the sub-committee overseeing the planned digital handout is completely clueless about where the funds will come for the scheme. Earlier, the government had made tall claims that the costs would be covered by the annual national budget.
However, the Thai government is already neck-deep in household debt and the country’s economic growth has stagnated. No wonder many have been clamouring for the Thai government to drop the plan altogether.
Concerns raised over the legality of the government’s proposed scheme
In a letter to the Election Commission, former senator Rosana Tositrakul questioned the legality of the government’s planned digital money handout and asked the body to launch a probe into the scheme. If the government doesn’t use its national budget to fund the digital money handout, it would have to borrow money, she argues.
A strong advocate of digital assets, Thavisin was elected as Thailand’s prime minister in August. His entire election campaign was centered around the proposal of a crypto giveaway scheme. While intense regulatory hurdles have inhibited the growth of Thailand’s crypto industry, Thavisin’s rise to power could herald a new beginning.
And it’s not only the Thailand government’s strict crypto taxation regime that has the industry in a chokehold. With crypto scams in the country on the rise, investor sentiment towards digital assets could turn sour, prompting the government to implement a stricter regulatory framework for crypto trading.