Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Friday the government will persevere with its 10,000-baht digital wallet handout scheme for all Thai citizens over 16 years old despite experts' criticisms.
He also acknowledged a disapproving comment by Bank of Thailand (BoT) governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput about the economic stimulus policy and said his ruling Pheu Thai Party is open to all suggestions regarding it.
The Srettha government is determined to push ahead with the digital wallet scheme for 56 million people. It is expected to begin on Feb 1. The budget is estimated to be 560 billion baht, but the funding source has yet to be revealed.
Veerathai Santiprabhob, the former BoT governor, posted on his Facebook page on Friday that short-term populist policies from previous governments had resulted in non-performing fiscal burdens and affected the economy years later.
The rice price guarantee programme and first-car policy were among the examples he cited.
He noted the GDP-centric policy, seen as a temporary stop-gap, could even backfire and damage Pheu Thai's popularity in the next election. Many other government projects may fall short of their budget as a result of this financially taxing project, he noted.
Ninety-nine economics experts have urged the administration to call it off.
A statement signed by the 99 scholars, researchers and professors in economics argues that the economy is already undergoing a recovery phase as many analysts expect to see 2.8% growth this year and 3.5% growth in 2024, a sign that such handouts -- which could lead to higher inflation and raised interest rates -- are not needed.
"It is unnecessary for the government to boost personal consumption. Rather, it should improve the public sector's capacity for investment and exports," the statement read.