Thailand Set to Prioritize Welfare Cardholders for Cash Handout

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s government plans to hand out 10,000 baht ($273) each to 15 million welfare cardholders under a cash stimulus program aimed at jumpstaring Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

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Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s cabinet on Tuesday decided to accord priority to the state welfare cardholders in the so-called digital wallet scheme that will be paid out by Sept. 30, according to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.

The fund for the first phase of the handout will come from the current fiscal year’s budget and will help quicken the process, Chai said.

The rollout of the cash handout comes after months of delays and disputes with the opposition and the central bank over how the ruling coalition’s flagship program should be funded. Srettha’s administration is betting the stimulus can reignite growth after the nation notched the weakest expansion in the region in the first quarter.

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The cabinet approved a 122 billion baht supplementary budget for the current fiscal year that will go into partially finance the digital wallet. A bill to facilitate the extra spending will be forwarded to parliament, which the government expects to come into force by August, Chai said.

The additional spending is forecast to push the public debt level to 65.7% of gross domestic product this fiscal year.

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