Legality of proposed GSB loan for digital wallet scheme questioned
Move Forward deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun on Monday questioned the legality of the funding for the government’s digital money handout scheme, namely a loan from the state-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB).
The scheme, proposed by Pheu Thai Party during the May election, will give 10,000 baht in digital money to every Thai aged 16 and above to stimulate domestic consumption. The party estimated that the policy could be implemented within the first quarter of next year and would cost around 560 billion baht.
In a Facebook post, Sirikanya, who is also a party-list MP in the opposition coalition, cited Section 7 of the Government Savings Bank Act of 1946, which stipulates eight purposes for conducting business for the GSB, none of which include granting a loan to the government.
She added that loan money to government is also not included in the Royal Decree Prescribing Banking Activities of 1998 that states 13 businesses in which the GSB can engage, along with those mentioned in the 1946 Act, such as foreign currency exchange, credit card, and financial advisory services.
“With the laws clearly stating such restrictions, any notion of funding the digital money scheme through a GSB loan should end here,” she said. “Unless, the government wants to amend the law, which could still be done, but should not.”
She went on to say that the previous government under Junta leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha amended the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission Act, allowing the agency to loan its R&D fund to the Finance Ministry of 14.3 billion baht, which was widely criticised.
“If the GSB’s loan cannot be obtained, the only available solutions are to use the fiscal budget or the issuing of a royal decree permitting emergency loans like during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sirikanya said.
She pointed out that if the funding of the digital money scheme were to be taken from the government’s projected fiscal 2024 budget of 3.48 trillion baht, this would cripple several other minor projects that the government has proposed, including promoting a soft power economy, helping farmers affected by droughts, preventing forest fires and PM2.5 air pollution, and the personnel upskilling/reskilling campaign.
“Issuing a royal decree for an emergency loan would be a political suicide for the government,” she said. “Not to mention that it might not be approved due to the lack of a real emergency.”