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Govt mulls excluding the rich

Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat yesterday said the government is considering revising its 10,000-baht digital wallet handout scheme by excluding wealthy people.

Mr Julapun told reporters that Thailand has long-lasting problems that drastically affect the people’s living conditions, especially upcountry, while the government has collected fewer taxes.

Household debt has also increased, while public debt has risen from 40% to more than 60% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Mr Julapun said the digital wallet scheme is therefore necessary to help kickstart the economy next year as the government expects to see 5% economic growth.

The scheme will be implemented despite opposition from more than 120 scholars, researchers, economic experts and even former Bank of Thailand governors.

Mr Julapun insisted that the government listens to every party concerned. He said many people have been waiting for the implementation of the project, so the government will not back off.

He said the Digital Wallet Steering committee will consider revising the scheme during its meeting tomorrow or on Oct 19 to exclude wealthy people.

The project will still target vulnerable groups and low-income people.

He believed that the project, aiming to provide 10,000 baht in digital money to every Thai national 16 years old and above, would not appeal to wealthy people.

The government expects people to begin registering for the scheme next month, he said, adding that those who do not do so means they will not want to join the scheme.

He said the committee would also consider expanding the scope of the use of the digital money. It may widen the 4km radius from a person’s home to within the tambon, district or even province where their official house registration is located.

For the source of the money, which is estimated to total about 560 billion baht, Mr Julapun assured that there will be financial sources to fund the project.

He declined to give more details, saying only one example is that the Budget Bureau is considering lowering the budgets of other government projects for the next fiscal year to fund it.

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