Handout ‘can’t be used for mobile phones’

Digital pocket spending must go to little stores, says secretary

Handout ‘can’t be used for mobile phones’
Julapun Amornvivat, the lieutenant finance minister, addresses a march held in Bangkok in October last year in support of the digital wallet initiative. Looking on at departed is Paopoom Rojanasakul, even a deputy finance minister. ( Photo: Somchai Poomlard )

People who receive the president’s 10, 000-baht flyer may not be able to use the electronic cash to buy cellular phones, electric gadgets or electrical products, authorities said on Wednesday.

According to Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat, the goods were put on a’negative listing’ by a government subcommittee working on the program’s specifics.

He said on Wednesday after chairing a committee meeting that the government wants to make sure the online money is spent at small shops, never large department stores, because up to 50 million qualified people are eligible for it.

As for the sources of funding for the handout, he said, the committee agreed on a proposal to set aside only 80 % to 90 % of the overall 500-billion-baht budget. This is because not everyone who is entitled is expected to participate, says Mr Julapun.

He made reference to a research conducted by the Fiscal Policy Office that discovered that not all available parties had enrolled in the previous government’s co-payment trigger program.

According to Mr. Julapun, this change to the budgetary planning for the handout will mean the scheme wo n’t need loans from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives ( BAAC ) as previously envisaged.

As a result, he said, the government might not have to borrow from the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives ( BAAC ) as planned earlier.

The money will come from the 2024 governmental funds and the 2025 fiscal resources, at 160 billion and 280 billion baht both, he said.

” Even if all 50 million eligible individuals file, the government may still be able to get enough funding”, said Mr Julapun.

All of the ideas from Wednesday’s meeting may be forwarded to the principal commission overseeing the structure, chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, when it meets on Monday, said Mr Julapun.

The major agency’s selection will then be forwarded to the government for assent, before Mr Srettha on July 24 officially announces the launch day, registration and other details, said Mr Julapun.

By the end of September, he predicted that transmission of the flyer will be completed, and that registration will be completed for those who qualify, he said.

The Pheu Thai Party’s premier coverage in the 2023 vote was proposed by academics and two previous central banks governors, who criticized the program as being financially irresponsible.

Questions were raised about the legal ramifications of requesting a payment from the BAAC, and the government’s legal expert system, the Council of State, was scheduled to be asked for an opinion. However, a proper demand has not yet been received, said Pakorn Nilprapunt, the mayor’s secretary-general.