Most Thais do not agree with the government's plan to fund the digital wallet scheme with a 500-billion-baht loan but a slight majority still supports the policy, according to an opinion survey conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida).
The poll was conducted between Nov 13-16 on 1,310 people aged 18 years and over from various levels of education and income and a range of occupations nationwide, after Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin outlined the programme in detail on Nov 10.
The 10,000-baht handout will be offered to Thais aged 16 and older who earn less than 70,000 baht per month and/or have under 500,000 baht in bank deposits. Based on these criteria, an estimated 50 million people will be eligible -- down from 56 million originally.
Regarding the 500-billion-baht loan, 50.69% of respondents strongly disagreed, 18.7% disagreed, 14.89% moderately agreed, 13.35% strongly agreed and 2.3% either did not know or were not interested.
After listening to Mr Srettha's remarks, 29.9% said they strongly disagreed with the scheme in general, 25.9% strongly agreed, 25.1% moderately agreed, 18.2% disagreed and 0.7% either did not know or were not interested.
Some 79.85% said they were eligible to receive the money, 11.6% were not sure of their status and 8.4% thought they were not eligible.
Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Sunday said he backs the handouts as long as the policy complies with the law.
Mr Anutin, who also leads the Bhumjaithai Party, said he believes the process of endorsing the policy is complicated but state agencies are working toward seeing the scheme through. Critics have asked about the extent of coalition support for the bill.
Adisorn Piengkes, a Pheu Thai list-MP and chief government whip, said the government is preparing to present a bill seeking a loan worth 500 billion baht to finance the digital wallet policy. The reading is expected to take one or two days, including a session for the opposition to ask about the bill.