Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin, a former businessman, sparked a hot debate in society after he announced during the election campaign about digital wallet that he would give away money worth 10,000 baht to the public.
Srettha, who serves as the advisory chairman of the Pheu Thai political party, told reporters that many political parties were shocked at the policy because they could not have thought that Pheu Thai would come up with it and directly express itself in such a way.
He added that the criticism was fine with him because the more people speak out, the more the party can explain itself to the people.
The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) also has given the Pheu Thai Party until April 18 to clarify how they will fund policy pledges while Pheu Thai Party deputy leader Bhumtham Vecchayachai said the matter can be explained to the ECT and the party is not concerned about a petition.
Srettha explained that the Thai economy was currently growing at 2.6 per cent, lower than neighbouring countries which recorded 5 per cent growth. He said the country was in a bad situation, like a sick person in intensive care. Therefore, Pheu Thai’s policy is focused on boosting the economy’s recovery to generate more revenue for the country, he said.
According to Pheu Thai’s advisory chairman, Thailand has used about 11 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to boost the economy. However, spending measures were not efficient, such as previous government policies like the Chim Shop Chai (Taste Shop Spend) money giveaway, the Khon La Khrueng (co-paying scheme) government subsidy programme or the We Travel Together programme, where all programmes gave money to people in several batches, which he said was not the best strategy to boost the economy.
What is in the 10,000 baht giveaway?
The time period of the program is 6 months so shops, small and medium enterprises, and industries can prepare themselves for the demands which will drive the economy.
The plan proposes to set the location to within 4 kilometres of the person, aiming to boost the local economy, as the policy targets local shops rather than the big department stores or online shops.
However, when the party announced the plan, people complained that they could not find a shop within 4 kilometres of their house, so the party wants to introduce blockchain technology to improve the area.
In Thailand, there are about 50 million people over the age of 16. That means 500 billion baht in the budget per year. However, Srettha said this was a one-off policy, not an annual one.
He said if the party is elected to form the government, it will take some time to form a new government and spend money. In the meantime, if they give away money to the people, the people will start using the money, which will drive up the VAT tax and business tax and boost the economy by billions of baht.
Where will the money come from?
As to where the money will come from, Srettha said that there are 2 portions:
Tax revenue in 2024 will amount to 256 billion baht. (7.5 billion U.S. dollars) This share alone is more than half of the required budget.
When the program kicks in, business owners will have to buy their goods and hire more employees to meet demand. This will increase government revenue. Meanwhile, hiring will increase individual income, which will later be returned by the individual tax by 20 per cent, or 300 billion baht
When asked why the party would use blockchain technology and not the Paotang application, Srettha explained that the program needs to limit where a person can spend the money and needs blockchain technology to do so.
The 10,000-baht voucher is sent to the digital wallet. You can redeem it within a day or on any day during the validity period of 6 months. After 6 months, the voucher will be expired.
“This coupon cannot be transferred. It cannot be traded on the market. It is not a cryptocurrency token. It is a coupon. But instead of giving a paper coupon, the government will send it on the phone. It cannot be speculated. 10,000 baht will remain 10,000 baht. There is no need to adjust the law as previous schemes like Khon-La-Khrueng or We-Travel-Together use the same law,” Srettha said.