Govt yet to ask council about BAAC wallet funds
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Govt yet to ask council about BAAC wallet funds

Pakorn: Waiting for query
Pakorn: Waiting for query

The government has yet to ask the Council of State for legal advice on the use of funds from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to partly finance the digital wallet scheme, Pakorn Nilprapunt, the council's secretary-general, said.

When asked whether the government would also have to seek the council's advice if it wanted to divert money from the national budget for the handout scheme, he said there was no need to do so because the government had the authority to manage budget spending.

On whether the government can also use money from the national budget's central fund for the scheme, Mr Pakorn said that the Budget Bureau oversees the central fund, which is intended for emergency purposes.

Mr Pakorn said that the Budget Bureau will decide whether a request for the use of the central fund will meet the criteria set by the bureau.

Previously, the government said it planned to disburse 172 billion baht of funds from the BAAC for the scheme as one of three main sources of funding for the digital wallet programme.

However, obtaining a loan from the BAAC to finance the project would run into legal hurdles. The BAAC law says the bank can only provide financial help to farmers and not offer its loans as economic stimulus.

On May 28, the cabinet approved a 3.75-trillion-baht budget for the 2025 fiscal year, which will start on Oct 1 and end on Sept 30 next year. Some 152.7 billion baht from the budget's central fund was earmarked to partially finance the handout scheme.

The government on Tuesday also approved a bill to spend 122 billion baht from the 2024 fiscal budget for the same purpose, deputy government spokeswoman Rudklao Intawong Suwankiri said. The bill is expected to be tabled in parliament for a first reading next week, she said.

Of the 122 billion baht, 111 billion baht will come from a budget deficit, while the rest will be diverted from other parts of the 2024 spending, according to the Budget Bureau.

Lavaron Sangsnit, permanent secretary for finance, said on Tuesday that the government will have to wait for the budget bill for the 2025 fiscal year to pass parliament before seeking the Council of State's advice on the handout scheme.

The 3.75-trillion-baht budget bill for the 2025 fiscal year sailed through its first reading in the House of Representatives on June 21.

It is currently being scrutinised by a vetting committee.

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