The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) is calling on the government to use part of the estimated budget of 560 billion baht for its digital wallet scheme to instead support water management plans.
Thailand needs both short- and long-term measures to better cope with flooding and drought. The latter is expected to affect the agricultural sector as the impact of El Niño-induced drought will pick up next month, according to an estimate by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry.
The Srettha Thavisin government is determined to push ahead with its 10,000-baht digital wallet handout scheme, expected to cover 56 million people through Krungthai Bank's Pao Tang app.
The app was used to facilitate previous stimulus programmes launched by the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.
"The Pao Tang app has 40 million people registered. The government should base its digital wallet scheme on this figure," said Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, a key member of the JSCCIB.
The committee wants the government to offer the stimulus scheme to certain groups of people and local shops.
The scheme may not need to cover 56 million people as Thailand requires funding to deal with other issues, said Mr Sanan.
Only 54% of water in the country can be used, compared with 66% in the same period last year, according to the JSCCIB.
"The government can use some of the 560 billion baht for water management to help Thailand better deal with its water problems," he said.
The committee maintained its GDP growth forecast yesterday in a range of 2.5-3% for this year, with exports projected to contract by between -2% and -0.5%.
The JSCCIB projects inflation of 1.7-2.2% this year.
The committee is monitoring the baht's depreciation. Though exporters will benefit from a weaker baht, it affects manufacturers who need to buy raw materials from abroad as well as oil importers.
An appropriate value for the currency is 35-36 baht to the US dollar, said the JSCCIB.
Other economic issues, especially the government's plan to raise the daily minimum wage, are on the agenda for talks between Mr Srettha and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), another member of the JSCCIB, on Oct 6, said Thawee Piyapatana, senior vice-chairman of the FTI.