Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomethailandgeneralPM puts faith in deputy to front e-wallet scheme

PM puts faith in deputy to front e-wallet scheme

Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin has defended his deputy Julapun Amornvivat against criticism of his ability to lead the government's sub-committee overseeing the launch of the 10,000-baht digital money handout scheme.

“No, I won’t change,” wrote Mr Srettha in a message posted on X, replying to calls for him to change the chairman of the sub-committee from Mr Julapun to someone more capable of handling a key election policy.

Mr Srettha also added in an associated message on X that Mr Julapun is a decent and capable person.

In an interview on Friday, the PM simply responded with a smile to questions about Mr Julapun’s role as the sub-committee’s chairman and updates about the digital wallet programme which he gave the public, which some have found confusing.

“Julapun, the deputy finance minister, is knowledgeable and capable. We have talked constantly [about updates on the project]. He should never be devalued in any way. Don’t worry. We are a team and always will be. I trust him,” Mr Srettha added.

Mr Julapun has encountered escalating criticism made by some academics and political pundits after he told the media last week the details of a summary from the latest round of the sub-committee’s discussions about the digital wallet programme.

The summary contained three proposed optional changes to the scheme, which initially promised to offer 10,000 baht in digital money to every Thai aged 16 and over and was estimated to require up to 560 billion baht in funding to cover an estimated 56 million such people.

The three new options are to offer the digital money to the 15-16 million people who previously registered in the past government’s state welfare project, to provide the promised digital money to only those who earn less than 25,000 baht a month, or to include only those who earn no more than 50,000 baht a month into the new handout programme.

It is unfair to accuse Mr Julapun of changing the digital wallet project’s core principle as the three new options are the outcome of the sub-committee’s work, and not his own opinions, said government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.

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