The Bhumjaithai Party, as a member of the Pheu Thai-led coalition government, will support the 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme as long as it is lawful, Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Thursday.
The Bhumjaithai leader was responding to questions about Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s expression of concern that a draft bill to borrow 500 billion baht to fund the programme could hit a stumbling block.
The Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body, is currently studying the handout scheme, and in particular the borrowing proposal, to ensure it complies with related laws. The National Anti Corruption Commission is also monitoring developments as it has said there is a risk of policy corruption. Other agencies have also been asked to scrutinise the plan.
Mr Anutin expressed confidence that the bill would have the support of the coalition parties, which have a total of 320 votes in the 500-seat House. Bhumjaithai, with 71 seats, is the second-largest party in the 11-member coalition.
He said he was unaware that Mr Srettha had expressed any worries about the bill’s chances. In his opinion, every political party is duty-bound to push for its policies to be implemented.
The only policies that cannot be implemented are those that are against the law and regulations, particularly the constitution, Mr Anutin said.
Asked whether Bhumjaithai would focus mainly on legality in its decision to support the handout, he replied, “That’s right.”
“As a coalition partner, if a programme proposed by one party is lawful, we have to support one another. Otherwise we will not be able to put any policies into practice,” he added.
Some experts have pointed out that if the borrowing bill fails to get parliamentary approval, the prime minister would have to show responsibility. Since it is a financial bill proposed by the government, the premier would have to either resign or dissolve the House to call a new election.
Mr Anutin said that so far, the matter has not reached that stage.
Everything must go step by step, he said, adding that the prime minister had prepared to the best of his ability.
“Don’t forget that all parties in the coalition are duty-bound to support all government policies delivered to parliament by the prime minister,” he said. “It is not that one party would support only the policies it has proposed. A disagreement would only lead to the doom of the parties in conflict, as seen in the previous government.
“What is even more important is that the people would get nothing from disunity or disharmony. Therefore, we have to support one another, regardless of disagreements. The government’s policies are our mutual responsibility.”
Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, a deputy prime minister and chief adviser to the Palang Pracharath Party, was also asked about the party’s support for the digital wallet. “I don’t know. It depends on the party leader,” he said, referring to his elder brother, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.
He also brushed aside questions about whether Gen Prawit was preparing to step aside, saying his elder brother is still healthy and strong and still in charge of the party.
Asked whether Gen Prawit would resign from politics, Pol Gen Patcharawat said, “I don’t think so. He likes it.”
Deputy Prime Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, leader of the United Thai Nation Party, said that as a coalition partner his party is duty-bound to support government policies provided that they do not cause any problems for society.