Thailand’s opposition leader has promised to send 10,000 baht ($300) in digital currency to everyone aged 16 and over if his Pheu Thai party wins the next election.
According to a report by the Bangkok Post real estate tycoon-turned-candidate Sretta Thawisin announced a $300 handout policy in Thailand’s densely populated central province of Nonthaburi on Wednesday.
Paetongtarn Shinawat, Pheu Thai’s chief advisor for public participation and innovation, said the policy is part of a blockchain-based project designed to promote Thai products abroad and help the adoption of digital currencies in Thailand.
The $300 airdrop will need to be spent within a 4 kilometer radius over six months.
Shinawat said the policy aims to make Thailand an Asian fintech hub while boosting its economy.
He explained that the funds would be invested in local areas for people to use within months of receiving them, although critics criticized the initiative for a lack of transparency and a clear delineation of funding sources.
“For the past eight years, our country has been experiencing economic bruises, with lower incomes and higher costs for the people,” Tavisina is quoted as saying Bloomberg .
“The current government is drip feeding with small cash handouts. This is not the right way and does not stimulate proper and proper economic growth.”
Experts are concerned about sources of funding
The policy has been criticized as a vote-getting gimmick, with some experts noting that there is no clear source of funding to cover the initiative.
Waivit Thongtongkham, an employee at a commercial bank, admitted that people liked the prospect of free money from the government, but questioned where it would come from.
Experts also noted that Pheu Thai has previously criticized the Prayuth government’s policies on the state’s welfare scheme for the elderly poor.
The Pheu Thai Party is running against the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, which is led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the former head of the military junta that ruled the country after a 2014 coup.
Thanakorn Wangbunkongchana, a minister in the office of Prime Minister Chan-o-cha and chief strategist of the United Thai Nation Party, said the budget would be 500 billion baht ($15 billion) if distributed among all 50 million Thais.
He also said that creating a digital currency would be a major challenge that would have ramifications for the country’s entire financial system, and suspected that the policy was a marketing ploy.
Thailand’s move comes amid more and more Asian countries looking to create a more enabling environment for crypto companies seeking to become global crypto hubs.
It was recently revealed that the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the police are working with lenders in the country to improve their approach to the adoption of crypto service providers.
Similarly, Hong Kong is aggressively promoting its plans to become a global crypto hub.
Hong Kong officials are reportedly planning to host a meeting between crypto companies and bankers to try to facilitate funding for the sector, suggesting the city intends to address various difficulties crypto companies face when trying to open corporate bank accounts.
In addition, a number of Chinese state-owned banks in Hong Kong, including Bank of Communications, Bank of China and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, have either started offering banking services to local crypto firms or made inquiries.