Thailand will delay the rollout of its $15 billion digital wallet handout scheme, but still launch it in the first quarter of next year to revive the economy, a deputy finance minister said on Thursday.
The new government’s signature economic programme, which has been heavily criticised by economists, was originally scheduled to begin on Feb. 1.
It aims to give 10,000 baht ($274.4) in handouts via digital wallets to more than 50 million people, to be spent in local communities.
Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat said the government needed more time to work on the details of the scheme and was still open to suggestions of all parties.
“The Feb. 1 start date is a bit tight, especially for the system’s security that must be tested until we are confident about it,” he said.
“But the project will definitely start no later than the first quarter of next year,” he added.
The digital wallet scheme will require no more than 548 billion baht ($15 billion) and will help lift economic growth close to 5% in 2024, Julapun said.
“This project will help the economy grow in line with its potential… without this project, the economy might grow just 2.6% or 2.8%,” he said.
The central bank predicts economic growth of 4.4% in 2024 after 2.8% this year. Last year’s growth was 2.6%.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy grew just 1.8% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, much slower than the previous quarter, as exports slumped.
Julapun also said a recent fall in Thailand’s stock market .SETI was due to concerns over the Thai and U.S. interest rate differentials and the Middle East conflict.
There was no need yet to introduce any support measures, but the government was monitoring the situation and any impact on consumption, he added.
($1 = 36.44 baht)
Source : Nasdaq