Thai Prime Minister considers funding options for $13.7 billion stimulus package to bolster economy
Economy

Thai Prime Minister Announces Economic Boost Handout Scheme Amid Fiscal Responsibility Concerns

Srettha Thavisin, the Prime Minister of Thailand, announced on Wednesday that the economy was facing challenges and needed a boost from a proposed handout scheme worth 500 billion baht ($13.7 billion). This scheme, known as the “digital wallet” plan, would involve transferring 10,000 baht ($275) to 50 million Thais to be spent within six months. However, concerns about the funding for this scheme have arisen, with some experts questioning its fiscal responsibility.

The government has decided to delay the distribution of funds until the fourth quarter of the year, pushing back from the initial timeline of May. Srettha revealed that the finance ministry and the Budget Bureau have been tasked with exploring potential funding sources for the scheme, in addition to considering a borrowing bill. He emphasized the importance of boosting the economy, which has experienced low growth over the past decade.

The state planning agency has revised its 2024 growth outlook due to unexpectedly low full-year growth at 1.9%, down from 2.5% in 2022. The new projection ranges from 2.2% to 3.2%, down from an earlier estimate of 2.7% to 3.7%. Despite these challenges, Srettha has labeled this economic situation as a crisis that requires urgent stimulus measures.

However, not everyone shares this viewpoint. The central bank governor acknowledged slower-than-expected growth and structural issues in the economy while expressing reservations about seeking a borrowing bill to finance handout programs like this one.

The government plans to discuss further details regarding financing for this scheme at its next meeting on April 10th.

In summary, Thailand’s Prime Minister announced plans for a $13 billion handout program aimed at boosting economic growth but raised concerns about funding sources and fiscal responsibility. Despite delays in distribution and uncertainty about funding options, Srettha remains determined to implement stimulus measures necessary for economic recovery.

Srettha’s efforts are commendable given Thailand’s long history of low growth rates over several decades

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