Bangkok Post – NACC to eye digital wallet for graft risks

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will continue monitoring the government’s digital wallet policy, particularly the planned use of funds from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to finance the scheme.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC secretary-general and spokesman, said the agency has warned about potential graft and legal risks tied to the 10,000-baht handout scheme and will see if the government takes steps to address its concerns.

The NACC’s actions are intended to prevent and deter corruption, and if specifics come to its attention, the agency will examine the details and make additional suggestions to the government, he said.

The agency formed a panel in October last year to study the scheme and in its recommendations to the government, the panel warned about potential violations of financial and fiscal discipline regulations and exploitation by corrupt actors.

“The NACC can’t prohibit the government from implementing policies. The government is responsible for running the country and should receive fair treatment in the process,” said Mr Niwatchai.

He said the agency has the authority to examine the BAAC’s spending and will check if the planned use of the BAAC’s funds to finance the digital wallet scheme is in compliance with the laws governing the bank’s operations.

In its latest decision, the government opted not to seek loans but decided to use three sources of funds to finance the scheme estimated at 500 billion baht. The structure of the funds comprises 175 billion baht from the fiscal 2024 budget, 153 billion baht from the budget expenditure for fiscal 2025, and 172 billion baht from the BAAC to be given to 17.23 million farmers.

Mr Niwatchai said while the digital wallet policy is not the same as the corruption-hit rice-pledging scheme implemented by the Yingluck government, there are areas of concern such as potential collusion.

“The fund [for farmers] is initially earmarked for purchases of agriculture-related supplies, so we have to examine if there are many suppliers available and if farmers are required to buy from certain suppliers,” he said.

Newly appointed Deputy Finance Minister Paopoom Rojanasakul on Friday said the digital wallet scheme is designed to create “economic whirlwinds” to awaken the Thai economy. Speaking at the Pheu Thai Party’s “10 Months Without Waiting, Moving Forward to Achieve 10 out of 10” event, he explained how the economy will be stimulated as people spend their 10,000 baht.

He said the increased activity generated by recipients and participating stores will prompt the manufacturing sector to increase production, leading to more employment. This, in turn, generates more income, more purchasing power and higher overall spending.

SOURCE: : Thailand   (go to source)
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