BANGKOK Aug 26 Thailand's military government
will lend farmers and their children a combined 11 billion baht
($345 million) in an effort to fight off loan sharks as high
levels of household debt drag on economic recovery, a state bank
said on Tuesday.
The plan is part of the junta's measures to revive Southeast
Asia's second-largest economy, which was hurt by months of
political unrest. The army took power on May 22.
The central bank and the state planning agency indicated
household debt levels this year were as high as 82.3 percent of
gross domestic product (GDP), up from 75.5 percent in the first
quarter of 2013, Somsak Kangteerawat, senior executive vice
president of the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural
Cooperatives (BAAC), told reporters.
"Therefore, the BAAC has come up with this scheme to tackle
household debts, which are not in the main financial system," he
said, adding that loan sharks charged interest rates ranging
from 36 percent to 60 percent per year.
The bank has initially earmarked 10 billion ($313
million)for farmers - each can borrow 100,000 baht ($3,100) with
an annual interest rate of 12 percent and a 10-year debt
repayment period, Somsak said, adding this would benefit 150,000
Another 1 billion baht will be lent to farmers' children,
who have other jobs, on the same terms, he said.
The programme will run for a year from Sept. 1.
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Pairat
Temphairojana; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)