Critics slam Srettha for relying on loans to fund 10,000-baht giveaway promise
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has been widely slammed for resolving to fund his party’s controversial 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme with loans.
Last week, Srettha announced that loans under a royal decree would fund the scheme, which will now only be applicable to Thai citizens aged 16 and above who earn less than 70,000 baht per month and have less than 500,000 baht in their bank accounts.
In a comment on X (formerly Twitter), opposition Thai Sang Thai Party leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan said: “[I] agree with economy stimulus to help people. However, the decision to borrow, despite the premier’s prior assurances against it, raises concerns about the burden on the Thai people, particularly in terms of the substantial debt that will need to be repaid.
“Taking loans can be done by anybody, without requiring management abilities, much like [the government’s actions] to reduce electricity and train fares, which do not result from structural changes.”
Srettha said on Friday that in the revised iteration of the 10,000-baht digital wallet handout, the budget has risen from 560 billion to 600 billion baht, and legislation would have to be enacted to seek parliamentary approval for borrowing it.
Meanwhile, former commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the policy deviates from the government’s pre-election promises, especially assurances that no loans will be taken to finance this policy.
“The prime minister emphatically reiterated his commitment not to borrow money, yet resorted to borrowing through the drafting of an act. This is an act of backsliding,” Jurin said in his capacity as caretaker leader of the opposition Democrat Party.
He said this step has hurt the government’s credibility, adding “nobody will believe what the government says anymore”.
Jurin also said he sees this giveaway as a purely populist policy.
Srettha, meanwhile, has said this 10,000-baht giveaway will not breach Thailand’s fiscal discipline and instead will elevate the GDP by 5% over the next four years. It will also reduce the country’s public debt, he said, which currently stands at 91% of the GDP.