The government will press ahead with its 10,000-baht digital currency handout scheme despite growing criticism, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Monday.
Mr Srettha, who also serves as finance minister, brushed aside criticism of a lack of clarity, especially over how it will be financed.
"I insist the policy will go ahead. We are working on fine-tuning details regarding the source of funding for the scheme and how to use [the handout system]. Details are expected to become clear after a meeting of the sub-committee [steering the scheme]," Mr Srettha said.
Earlier on Monday, Deputy Finance Minister Julapun Amornvivat said that the government has to tread carefully with the planned scheme to avoid any legal wrangle. He also admitted the government had yet to find a way to fund the scheme.
However, he insisted that the scheme will still be launched on Feb 1 next year as scheduled despite the sub-committee planning the details having yet to schedule its next meeting following disagreements over how the scheme would be funded.
Mr Julapun said there were many major factors that could delay the handout.
"We need to be sure the system is safe when it is launched. Protecting the confidentiality of personal data is also important. Moreover, compliance with the law cannot be overlooked.
"I spoke with the prime minister in the morning, and he did not give any instructions in particular. And it is still not known when the next meeting of the sub-committee will take place," Mr Julapun said.
He also claimed the government will take extra care to ensure the scheme and its funding are in line with the law and denied seeking loans from the Government Savings Bank (GSB).
He went on to say that once the sub-committee finalises the details, particularly the source of funding, it will forward the matter to the main digital wallet policy committee.
Former senator Rosana Tositrakul has asked the Election Commission to investigate the legality of the policy and how Pheu Thai would fund it.
Ms Rosana said if the government needed to borrow to implement it, the EC should consider whether the funding would be legal or not. She said there was no economic crisis that could justify such a handout.
Sirikanya Tansakun, a list MP of the opposition Move Forward Party, wrote on Facebook that the Government Savings Bank Act does not allow the GSB to lend money to the government to finance schemes or initiatives.
"Section 7 of the law stipulates clear purposes for the bank's operations, but nowhere in the section is it mentioned that the government is allowed to borrow from the bank," she wrote.