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Thailand delays giving out digital currency; critics demand an investigation

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Thailand’s government has postponed the rollout of a proposed digital currency initiative designed to invigorate its economy, all the while facing calls from opposition leaders for an investigation into this scheme.

The launch of Thailand’s planned digital wallet program, aimed at distributing 10,000 baht (approximately $274) to citizens over the age of 16, has encountered delays. Critics are urging the country’s electoral commission to initiate an inquiry, as reported by the Bangkok Post. Julapun Amornvivat, Thailand’s Deputy Finance Minister, announced that the scheduled February 2024 launch of the new digital wallet has been deferred to allow for further system development.

The Thai government’s intention is to utilize this digital wallet to disburse 10,000 baht to eligible citizens, a move aimed at rejuvenating the local economy. Amornvivat’s statement underscored the government’s need for additional time to ensure the security and reliability of the underlying system supporting the digital grant wallet. He emphasized that the launch remains on track for the first quarter of 2024.

According to local reports, the sub-committee responsible for the program is still deliberating on the source of funds for the initiative. The digital wallet scheme, proposed by the Pheu Thai Party, is estimated to cost 548 billion baht ($15 billion). The government had previously forecasted that the initiative would bolster economic growth by 5% in the following year. Amornvivat also suggested that the increased economic activity’s tax revenue would partially cover the program’s cost.

Former Thai Senator Rosana Tositrakul has emerged as a vocal skeptic of this project and has formally requested that the election commission investigate the scheme’s legality. With the Thai government contemplating the use of its national budget to finance the digital handout, concerns about inadequate funding and the potential need to take on debt to fund the initiative have prompted Tositrakul to scrutinize the scheme’s legal standing.

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