Handout to be 'paid out at same time'
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Handout to be 'paid out at same time'

Deputy Finance Minister Paopoom Rojanasakul insisted yesterday that the 50 million people eligible to each receive 10,000 baht under the government's digital wallet scheme will receive the sum at the same time in the last quarter of the year as initially planned.

This comes as comments by government spokesman Chai Wacharonke reported by the media suggested otherwise the day before.

Mr Paopoom said he was correcting a misunderstanding about the 500-billion-baht handout that had been reported by the media.

In the initial reports, Mr Chai said the government might consider handing out the money first to 14.98 million state welfare card holders and people in vulnerable groups. Hearing this, some people were upset they would have to wait.

This was being done to ensure distribution of the digital money would begin within the 2024 fiscal year, ending on Sept 30. He said the government is required under Section 21 of the State Fiscal and Financial Discipline Act to start implementing the handout scheme in time before the 2024 fiscal year ends.

In fact, Mr Paopoom said the government committee overseeing the scheme had always affirmed its decision to distribute the 500 billion baht at once to the entire target group to help stimulate the economy.

All 50 million eligible Thais will register for the 10,000-baht digital handout in the third quarter, and the payment will begin in the fourth quarter, he said.

Mr Chai said the cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal by the Budget Bureau to increase the budget deficit previously planned for the 2024 fiscal year by 112 billion baht.

He said this was being done so that this extra money, together with 10 billion baht revenue gathered from a number of additional sources, could be spent on funding the handout.

With this 122 billion baht added, the initial 2024 fiscal budget will become 3.48 trillion baht, a 13.1% increase from the 2023 fiscal budget, which still is in line with the government's medium-term financial and budgetary plan (2025-2027), Mr Chai said.

The bureau's 122-billion baht expenditure proposal will be forwarded to parliament next and is expected to win final approval by August, he said.

Under a cabinet resolution reached on April 23, the scheme will be financed by funds from three main sources: the 2024 fiscal budget, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and the 2025 fiscal budget, he added.

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