Thai PM proposes $102 billion budget to parliament to revive economy

Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin speaks during the "Microsoft Build : AI Day" event in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Wednesday proposed a 3.753 trillion baht ($102 billion) budget for the 2025 fiscal year to jump-start the country's sluggish economy as lawmakers began a three-day debate.

The budget is aimed at helping the economy grow at its full potential, Srettha told the House of Representatives.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is expected to grow 2.5% to 3.5% in 2025, with inflation projected at 0.7% to 1.7%, he said.

The government is targeting growth of at least 3% this year, after last year's 1.9% expansion lagged regional peers.

"Deficit budgeting is important and necessary to stimulate a slow economy to grow significantly," Srettha said.

The 2025 budget papers project a 7.8% rise in spending and an increase of 24.9% in the budget deficit to 865.7 billion baht from the 2024 fiscal year.

The government earlier said some 152.7 billion baht of the 2025 budget would be used to help finance a signature 500 billion baht "digital wallet" handout scheme.

The scheme, which involves a giveaway of 10,000 baht per person to 50 million Thais to be spent in their communities, has been delayed to the fourth quarter this year due to funding issues.

The budget debate comes as Srettha faces a Constitutional Court case that could potentially lead to his dismissal.

The case over a cabinet appointment made by Srettha was brought on by a group of 40 conservative military-appointed senators. The prime minister denies any wrong doing.

($1 = 36.78 baht)

(Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Thanadech Staporncharnchai and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by John Mair)