In Bangkok, on November 10, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and the Finance Minister announced a new fiscal initiative aimed at bolstering the economic footing of many Thai citizens. Under the forthcoming Digital Wallet scheme, individuals over the age of 16, earning a monthly income of no more than 70,000 baht, and with bank deposits under 500,000 baht, will be deemed eligible for a financial boost of 10,000 baht.
During a recent press briefing on Friday, PM Srettha provided clarity on the eligibility criteria for this anticipated program. This announcement is a testament to the government’s dedicated effort to transform the vision of the Digital Wallet project into a tangible reality.
The strategy behind this scheme is to stimulate the economy by funneling money directly into the hands of consumers. The government has set an ambitious target of distributing a stimulating package that amounts to 600 billion baht. A substantial slice of that pie—500 billion baht—is allocated for the Digital Wallet initiative, reaching an estimated 50 million individuals, while a separate fund of 100 billion baht is earmarked for enhancing various capabilities. However, such an expansive and intricate undertaking will ultimately hinge upon the necessary legal proceedings and the green light from pertinent authoritative bodies.
In preparation for this rollout, the government has diligently consulted with financial bodies such as the Bank of Thailand and the National Economic and Social Development Council, among others. This collaborative approach is designed to ensure the scheme’s conditions are both robust and effective.
Looking ahead to May 2024, the launch of the Digital Wallet scheme is set against a six-month active period that commences from the beneficiary’s initial access of the funds. Further refining the eligibility, a notable addition dictates that the digital funds may only be expended within the recipients’ home districts.
The Digital Wallet is designated for the purchase of tangible goods such as food and basic consumer goods. However, limitations are in place: services, online shopping, alcohol, tobacco, and substances related to marijuana and cannabis are not included as permissible expenditures. Furthermore, prohibitions are applied to transactions involving gift cards, cash equivalents, and valuable commodities like gold and pearls. These digital funds cannot serve to settle any form of existing debt, educational fees, or domestic expenses like utilities.
When it comes to participating merchants, the program does not discriminate; all vendors are welcomed. Yet, to transact with the Digital Wallet credits, an important criterion must be met: stores must be firmly integrated into the tax framework, and for those not registered for VAT—such as local street vendors or digital app-based shops—registration and compliance with tax obligations are mandatory prerequisites.
This financial initiative is poised to create a ripple effect across the local economy, encouraging spending and supporting businesses, all while remaining within the structured guidelines set forth by the Thai government.