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Government restricts 10,000-baht handout use for phones and electronics

Picture courtesy of ThaiPost

Recipients of the government’s 10,000-baht handout will be restricted from using the digital cash to purchase mobile phones, electrical appliances, or electronic devices. This decision was announced by officials yesterday.

A government sub-committee, led by Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat, placed these items on a negative list to ensure the funds are spent at small shops rather than large department stores. Up to 50 million people are eligible for this digital money, but the government aims to direct their spending toward local businesses, he explained.

Julapun revealed that the committee plans to allocate only 80% to 90% of the 500 billion baht (US$ 13.7 billion) budget for the handout. This adjustment is based on a study by the Fiscal Policy Office, which indicated that not all eligible individuals registered for a previous government co-payment stimulus scheme.

“The revised budget means we won’t need loans from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) as previously planned,” Julapun stated.

Funding for the handout will be sourced from the 2024 and 2025 fiscal budgets, amounting to 160 billion baht (US$ 4.4 billion) and 280 billion baht (US$ 7.7 billion), respectively. Julapun assured that even if all 50 million eligible individuals register, the government will secure sufficient funding.

Proposals from the sub-committee’s meeting will be presented to the main committee, chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, on July 8. After the main committee’s decision, the proposals will go to the cabinet for approval. Srettha is expected to announce the start date, registration, and other details on July 24.

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Registration for the handout should conclude by the end of September, with distribution beginning in the last quarter of this year, reported Bangkok Post.

The plan, which was a key policy of the Pheu Thai Party during the 2023 election, has faced criticism from economists and two former central bank governors, who have labelled it fiscally irresponsible. Concerns have also been raised about the legality of seeking a loan from the BAAC. Pakorn Nilprapunt, secretary-general of the Council of State, mentioned that a formal request for an opinion has not yet been received.

Thailand News

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