Julapun questions phone inclusion
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Julapun questions phone inclusion

Scheme must benefit local economy: PM

Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat is urging the Commerce Ministry to reconsider its decision to allow recipients of the 10,000-baht payout through the digital wallet scheme to spend the money on mobile phones, saying the move won't benefit the domestic economy.

Mr Julapun said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is concerned by the decision, as most mobile phones are either made overseas and/or contain components which were produced abroad.

Allowing recipients to spend the payout on imported goods such as mobile phones risks undermining the spirit of the scheme, which is to stimulate local spending to boost the domestic economy, he said.

Mr Julapun, who is the chairman of the committee overseeing the digital money scheme, said the issue was raised at a meeting between the Finance and Commerce ministries and other state agencies on the list of goods on which recipients of the 10,000-baht digital cash can spend their money on.

The minister said Mr Srettha called on the Commerce Ministry to reconsider the decision, saying allowing people to spend the cash on mobile phones will cause the cash to flow out of the country.

The digital wallet scheme is the main policy of the Pheu Thai Party-led government.

The scheme is being rolled out in an effort to revive the flagging economy by handing out 10,000 baht in digital money to any citizen who is at least 16 years old and has annual income of no more than 840,000 baht.

The scheme is expected to cost the state about 500 billion baht.

The cabinet recently approved a proposal by the Budget Bureau to increase the budget deficit for the 2024 fiscal year by 112 billion baht in a bid to ensure there are enough money to fund the scheme.

With the added cost of funding the scheme, the budget for the 2024 fiscal year will be 3.48 trillion baht, a 13.1% increase from the 2023 budget, which still is in line with the government's medium-term financial plan, advocates of the scheme say.

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