Thai Prime Minister considers funding options to boost economy with $13.7 billion handout plan

On Wednesday, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced that the country’s economy was facing challenges and required a boost from a proposed 500 billion baht ($13.7 billion) handout scheme. The “digital wallet” scheme involved transferring 10,000 baht ($275) to 50 million Thais to be spent within six months. While the benefits of this scheme were clear, concerns about its funding have been raised, with some experts calling it fiscally irresponsible.

The government initially aimed to distribute the funds by May but now anticipates doing so in the fourth quarter of the year. Prime Minister Thavisin stated that the finance ministry and Budget Bureau were exploring different funding options for the scheme, including the possibility of a borrowing bill. He emphasized the importance of boosting the economy, especially given the low growth rates experienced over the past decade.

In 2023, the Thai economy unexpectedly contracted in the final quarter, leading to a full-year growth rate of 1.9%, lower than the 2.5% growth seen in 2022. The state planning agency has revised its 2024 growth forecast to between 2.2% and 3.2%. Discussions about funding sources for the handout scheme will be held at an upcoming meeting on April 10, where details will be finalized.

One potential option for financing the scheme is through borrowing from international financial institutions or private investors who may see value in helping stimulate economic growth in Thailand. Another option is through tapping into surplus funds available under government programs such as budget deficit control or other fiscal measures that could be redirected towards supporting economic growth initiatives like this one.

Despite differing opinions on funding sources for this program, both Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and central bank governor agreed that urgent measures needed to be taken to stimulate growth in Thailand’s struggling economy.

In conclusion, while there are various options available for financing this handout scheme, it remains unclear which approach will ultimately be chosen by government officials as they work to address ongoing economic challenges faced by Thailand’s citizens today.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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