Thai gov’t pawnshops offer interest-free loans to small borrowers
Government-run pawnshops have been ordered to waive interest on repayment of loans up to 5,000 baht, Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said on Sunday.
Varawut said the move is aimed at preventing low-income people from falling victim to loan sharks.
Official figures show household debt rose 3.6 percent to 16.07 trillion baht in the first half of this year, prompting the government to pledge measures to tackle “debt slavery”.
The interest-free loans would also supply liquidity for people to start their own businesses, Varawut said.
His ministry would also issue welfare measures, including financial support for elderly care and soft loans for house repairs, he added.
The measures will be submitted for approval at the Cabinet’s mobile meeting in Nong Bua Lamphu on Monday.
The Cabinet will be asked to approve the opening of 20 elderly care centers in 20 Northeast provinces. The meeting will also consider social support measures to be announced as “New Year gifts” for the people, Varawut said.
Government critics should wait for the issuance of measures to combat informal high-interest loans before commenting on the matter, he added.
“The Social Development and Human Security Ministry has just received the policy from the government and we are doing our best to speed up its implementation. Please wait to see details of the measures.”
Varawut was speaking to reporters after visiting Tambon Uthai Sawan in Nong Bua Lamphu to follow up on remedial measures for families of victims in the massacre at a daycare center there last year. A dismissed police officer killed 37 people, 24 of them infants in the nursery, before turning the gun on himself.
Varawut said he also offered moral support to families and officials at the nursery.
Village heads and chiefs of tambons and local administrations across the country have been instructed to vet residents who may be vulnerable to depression or pressure that may lead them to commit violence, he said.