Council of State refutes minister’s claim, says no go-ahead for digital wallet yet


The Council of State’s secretary-general rejected claims that the government’s advisory board has given the go-ahead to legislation allowing a 500- billion-baht loan to finance the digital wallet scheme.

Pakorn Nilprapunt, secretary-general of the Council of State office, told reporters on Tuesday that the council’s response to the Finance Ministry was confidential and only the ministry could disclose the details.

“However, it definitely does not contain any indication of a 'greenlight’,” Pakorn added.

He was apparently responding to a claim by Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat, who said on Monday that the Council of State has endorsed the government’s plan to enact a bill to borrow 500 billion baht and the scheme would kick off on May 1.

Julapun’s statement contradicts reports posted on several websites and television stations that the Council of State had advised against the enactment of the bill to borrow 500 billion baht to finance the digital wallet scheme.

Pakorn explained that the Council of State had only based its reply on a legal technicality as it primarily serves as a legal advisory body.

He said the council focused on the legal provisions of Article 53 of the 2018 State Fiscal and Financial Discipline Act.

“We simply stated what conditions under Article 53 are. The conditions will tell which ware emergency cases,” Pakorn added.

He said relevant government agencies should evaluate whether the proposed 500 billion baht borrowing aligns with the conditions specified in Article 53.

“If the ministry asks whether the government can enact a law to borrow money to resolve the country’s crises, we will say it can. But it will depend on the government to decide whether it should enact it as a bill or a decree, as both tools are law. That’s it, nothing more,” Pakorn said.

As for whether the Council of State had given any advice to the government, he said: “Nothing at all. We just explained Article 53 and said the government should listen to the opinions of government agencies concerned, and there must be clear information to substantiate [the claim of economic emergency situation]”.

When asked what the government should do if the council did not provide advice, Pakorn said the council comprises legal experts who cannot give any advice on subjects that require “scientific data”.

“But if the government follows our advice, it will be safe,” Pakorn added.

He also said that the Council of State could not provide opinions on economic matters, only legal considerations.

Responding to inquiries about the safer option between an executive decree and a bill, Pakorn said either would be fine as long as the government adheres to the conditions outlined in the Financial Discipline Act.