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'Govt coffers can cover e-wallet offer'

Criticism of the 10,000-baht digital currency handout scheme will not affect government stability, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said on Tuesday.

Mr Phumtham said that critics might have misconceptions about the scheme, but the positive aspect is that the government will use their criticisms for policy improvement.

He said the Pheu Thai Party had been planning the project for years and was just trying to think “outside the box” for outsiders’ perception, citing the success of the 30-baht healthcare scheme and the recent flat 20-baht fare for train commuters in Bangkok as examples supporting the argument.

When asked about concerns about the policy, he said that there was nothing to worry about so far, and the government was listening to suggestions.

When asked about funding, Mr Phumtham said that the government is now awaiting the results of discussions.

Responding to rumours about other coalition parties opposing the policy, Mr Phumtham said that the coalition will work together for the policy, and he had nothing to worry about.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, meanwhile, denied the rumour, saying the coalition might revise the policy if any faults or violations of constitutional provisions were observed.

Mr Anutin said there were many hurdles before the policy was effective, while emphasising the coalition’s support for government actions.

In response to a comment by Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, on specific groups that the scheme should cover, Mr Anutin said that while open to comments, the government must adhere to any related laws and measures when formulating the policy.

A Finance Ministry’s source said that the policy committee had postponed their meeting on Tuesday after being postponed once on Oct 19.

In related news, Dr Warong Dechgitvigrom, chairman of the Thai Pakdee Party, submitted a complaint to the State Audit Office of Thailand on the scheme’s postponement.

The scheme violated sections 162 and 164 of the constitution, as well as the State Fiscal and Financial Disciplines Act and the Currency Act, said Dr Warong.

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