Over 147,000 Thais register for debt relief programme

A TOTAL of 147,714 people have registered for the Interior Ministry’s debt relief programme over the past three months with a debt value of 10.74 billion baht (RM1.4bil), permanent secretary Suttipong Juljarern said.

The registration, which opened on Dec 1, will end tomorrow, he added, urging people who have debt problems to hurry up and register.

The registration is part of the government’s efforts to tackle the issue of illegal lending at hefty interest rates. Many debtors who had failed to repay their debts were reportedly threatened or assaulted by loan sharks.

Suttipong said most of the registrations (122,722 people) were done via the online platform, while the rest did so at provincial debt centres nationwide.

Bangkok saw the most registered debtors at 11,215 people, with a debt value of 965 million baht (RM128.2mil), followed by Nakhon Si Thammarat (5,948 people, 406 million baht, or RM53.9mil) and Songkhla (5,433 people, 360 million baht or RM47.8mil).

He added that since the start of the programme, 27,199 debtors have entered into a negotiation process, which has seen 17,287 cases resolved.

In these cases, the creditors have agreed to reduce the debt value by 737.2 million baht (RM97.9mil) and allow debtors more time to pay.

Suttipong said one of the obstacles was that some registrants were unable to provide full information on the creditors, especially those who operate as loan shark gangs and have agents providing loans and collecting money door to door.

Debtors usually know these agents only by their nicknames and have no idea who is behind the operation, which has prevented officials from contacting the creditors to negotiate the debts.

Suttipong said the ministry had offered to exercise the existing administrative mechanism and legal authority to mediate between debtors and creditors involved in illegal lending. Cases beyond the ministry’s authority would be referred to relevant state agencies. — The Nation/ANN

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