Union urges bank to come clean over digital wallet financing role
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Union urges bank to come clean over digital wallet financing role

Thaksin: Wallet to improve economy
Thaksin: Wallet to improve economy

The labour union of the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) on Saturday called on the government to allay concerns among bank customers over its plan to borrow 172.3 billion baht from the bank to partially finance the digital wallet handout scheme.

The union asked if the borrowing plan was allowed by the law governing the operations of the BAAC. It had decided to seek an opinion from the State Enterprise Policy Office, the Bank of Thailand and the Council of State as to whether the plan was legitimate.

The union also called on the BAAC to communicate to the public and within the organisation to offer assurances that it had not yet implemented any measures regarding the digital wallet scheme, while it awaited feedback from various agencies.

The BAAC's labour union also mentioned its previous stance against the bank approving 50 billion baht to pay farmers who pledged their paddy under the cash-strapped rice-pledging scheme of 2014.

It had the legitimacy to oppose the move at the time, it said, because the government was a caretaker government and did not have full authority.

However, for the digital wallet programme, the Srettha government has full authority, so the union decided to seek clarification regarding the legality of the borrowing plan.

The union said the BAAC's participation in the digital wallet scheme must comply with the law and align with the interests of its customers and the organisation.

The prime minister earlier scotched reports that news of the borrowing plan had let to a run on the bank's deposits.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday expressed confidence in the government's 500-billion-baht handout during his visit to his home province of Chiang Mai for the Songkran festival.

He brushed aside criticism and said the country's economy remained sluggish but was expected to improve after the digital wallet rollout.

"Our country's growth is slower than that in other Asean countries because there isn't enough money in the system. The government seeks to inject money to stimulate it," he said. Thaksin said the sluggish economy was due to delayed approval of the annual budget and bureaucratic changes that hindered swift implementation.

Thai Pakdee Party leader Warong Dechgitvigrom, meanwhile, said he would like to remind the BAAC executives to adhere to their principles.

In a social media post on Saturday, he said, "The money must be used according to Section 9 of the BAAC Act to support farmers in their agricultural livelihoods. Distributing BAAC funds through the digital wallet project could violate the law," Dr Warong said.

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