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Opposition Criticizes Thai Government’s Budget for 2025 Fiscal Year

In a contentious session at the House today, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin presented the ambitious 3.75 trillion baht budget for the 2025 fiscal year, drawing immediate criticism from opposition leader Chaithawat Tulathon. Accusing the government of prioritizing its own crises over the nation’s urgent needs, Chaithawat targeted the newly proposed “digital wallet” scheme as emblematic of misguided spending.

Chaithawat scrutinized the budget allocations, lamenting the absence of innovative solutions and clear policy directives. He argued that many of the government’s touted new projects were merely rehashed initiatives packaged as novel proposals. His harshest critique fell on the digital wallet scheme, dismissing it as a populist measure unlikely to spur economic production, investment, or job creation.

The opposition leader cautioned that the scheme could predominantly benefit Chinese manufacturers, whose products already dominate the Thai market, potentially leading to a drain of funds into imported goods rather than bolstering domestic industries. Instead, he urged the government to prioritize substantial investments aimed at modernizing Thai industries and enhancing workforce skills to revitalize the economy effectively.

Chaithawat also raised concerns over the budget’s significant increase, approximately 7.8% higher than the previous year, coupled with a substantial rise in public borrowing totaling 870 billion baht. He criticized the government’s determination to push through with the digital wallet initiative despite its potential costs, suggesting that the administration’s resolve to implement the scheme might be more about saving face than addressing genuine economic needs.

Former Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit echoed Chaithawat’s sentiments, branding the budget as unrealistic and divergent from the prime minister’s promises of fiscal prudence and deficit reduction. He criticized what he perceived as misleading figures presented to the parliament, characterizing the session as a forum fraught with disingenuous claims.

In response to these criticisms, government officials emphasized the necessity of proactive fiscal measures to stimulate economic recovery and address societal challenges. The debate over the 2025 budget underscores ongoing tensions between opposing visions for Thailand’s economic future, setting the stage for further deliberations and potential revisions as the fiscal year approaches.

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