FTI defends participation of convenience stores in digital wallet scheme

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024

The chief of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has urged the government to undertake immediate stimulus measures as there was still time for the digital wallet scheme to be implemented.

The private sector expects continuous injection of money into the system, FTI chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul said.

He suggested that the government find other measures to support the economy, such as accelerating procurement.

The digital wallet scheme, under which Thais aged 16 years and above would receive a 10,000 baht handout for purchases is expected to be implemented in the fourth quarter of 2024, as part of the flagship policy of the ruling Pheu Thai Party. Its stated objective is to stimulate the economy by creating purchasing power.

"Please expedite the disbursement of budget allocations for public procurement to avoid economic stimulus gaps

between fiscal years," Kriengkrai suggested

The digital wallet scheme aims to increase monetary circulation to help revive Thai GDP growth that has been languishing at around 2% for over a decade, making it a regional laggard.

Kriengkrai backed convenience stores to be part of the digital wallet scheme as they sold Thai goods which used Thai materials.

He said there was clarity on the digital wallet scheme being implemented in the fourth quarter, which was positive, especially regarding non-loan funding sources, which have eased concerns.

"But there are restrictions on small retailers who have not yet logged into the system because of concerns about taxes. We want entrepreneurs to enter the system to receive the fullest benefits," Kriengkrai said.

“The conditions of the digital wallet scheme cover all areas and target groups. It would help spread opportunities and increase income. But the utilisation of funds from the 2024 budget has been delayed from the original schedule of February-March 2024. And the digital wallet scheme would be launched only in the fourth quarter of 2024. Meanwhile, the government must find other measures to support the economy,"Kriengkrai said.

"Critics argue that the digital wallet scheme allows convenience stores to participate, but these stores also sell products made by Thai entrepreneurs, using domestic materials rather than imports,” Kriengkrai argued.