11 July 2024

Thailand’s Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says that he has instructed district officers across the country to coordinate with police to tackle the informal debt problem and to reach out to informal debtors.

He disclosed that, in the past, informal debtors were encouraged to come forward for registration, to access state help, but many dared not identify themselves for fear of reprisals from their creditors, because they are often “influential figures” in their communities.

He said that he would prefer to call informal lenders “exploiters”, because they often charge very high interest rates, adding that numerous debtors have made the required repayments, yet the principal owed has not decreased.

The main reason why informal debt persists and expands is because the debtors are afraid of their creditors and dare not speak up against them, said Anutin.

He also said that the Interior Ministry will wait for an announcement from Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, scheduled for Tuesday, about the government’s policies fortackling the debt problem, including those of teachers, small and medium-sized enterprises and the others.

Speaking at a seminar on poverty and how to improve the quality of life of the people, organised by the Senate committee on poverty and inequality, the interior minister said that the government, the Interior Ministry in particular, is committed to reducing poverty.

He said that reducing poverty does not mean everybodybecomes rich, but it helps people out of hardship and improves their quality of life.

Citing farmers as the lowest income earners in Thai society, Anutin said that he has agreed with Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao to join forces, to develop ways and means to reduce poverty among farmers.