Thai Prime Minister considers funding options to boost economy with $13.7 billion handout plan

On Wednesday, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced that the country’s economy was facing challenges and required a boost from a proposed 500 billion baht ($13.7 billion) handout scheme. The scheme, known as the “digital wallet,” involved transferring 10,000 baht ($275) to 50 million Thais to be spent within six months. While the benefits of this scheme were clear, concerns about its funding have been raised, with some experts calling it fiscally irresponsible.

Despite initial plans to distribute the funds by May, the government now anticipates doing so in the fourth quarter of the year. Srettha stated that the finance ministry and Budget Bureau were exploring different funding options for the scheme, including the possibility of a borrowing bill. He emphasized the importance of boosting the economy, especially given the low growth rates experienced over the past decade.

In recent years, Thailand’s economy has struggled to maintain momentum. In 2023, it unexpectedly contracted in the final quarter, leading to a full-year growth rate of just 1.9%, lower than expected. The state planning agency has revised its 2024 growth forecast to between 2.2% and 3.2%. Discussions about funding sources for the handout scheme will be held at an upcoming meeting on April 10th where details will be finalized.

One potential option for financing this scheme is through a fiscal budget recently approved for the 2024 fiscal year by parliamentary houses. While there was an attempt to propose a borrowing bill for this program, concerns about its legality were raised as such bills are typically reserved for times of economic crisis only.

Despite differing opinions, both Srettha Thavisin and central bank governor agreed that urgent measures needed to be taken to stimulate growth in Thailand’s economy.

In conclusion, Thailand’s Prime Minister has announced plans for a handout scheme worth $13 billion in an effort to boost economic growth after years of low rates. While some experts question its fiscal responsibility, others believe it necessary due to economic challenges faced by Thailand in recent years.

The government is currently exploring different funding options for this program and discussions about these options will take place at an upcoming meeting on April 10th where details will be finalized.

Ultimately it remains uncertain how effective this scheme will be in stimulating economic growth but one thing is clear; urgent measures need

By Samantha Johnson

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