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Thailand has funds to finance $13.8 billion handout scheme, official says

Published 07/10/2024, 03:21 AM
Updated 07/10/2024, 03:40 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bangkok's skyline is photographed during sunset in Bangkok, Thailand, July 3, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

(Corrects paragraph 6 to say "Party", not "Party's")

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thailand's government has sufficient funds to finance a 500 billion baht ($13.8 billion) household handout scheme, which is on track to be rolled out in the fourth quarter, a deputy finance minister said on Wednesday.

The government has prepared 450 billion baht from 2024 and 2025 fiscal budgets for the programme, and may not need to use funds from a state-owned bank, Julapun Amornvivat told a news conference.

"I confirm that this project is moving ahead. The money will reach the people in the fourth quarter and will benefit them," he said.Julapun said, however, the project was not expected to be fully taken up, noting that in the past government projects had no more than 90% of the target number of people registered.

The so-called "digital wallet" handout scheme, which involves a giveaway of 10,000 baht per person to 50 million Thais to be spent in their communities, has been delayed to the fourth quarter of this year due to funding issues.

Economists and two former central bank governors have criticised the plan, which was put forward by the ruling Pheu Thai Party as its flagship policy in the 2023 election, and said the programme is fiscally irresponsible.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bangkok's skyline is photographed during sunset in Bangkok, Thailand, July 3, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

The government has previously said it will finance the policy from the 2024 and 2025 budgets and with capital from the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

($1 = 36.36 baht)

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