Thailand will tighten rules on unsecured consumer loans

BANGKOK, June 29 (Reuters) - Thailand’s central bank expects to soon finalise measures to tighten controls on unsecured consumer credit to keep citizens from overspending at a time of high household debt and rising bad loans.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is holding a hearing on the package with relevant agencies, Deputy Governor Ruchukorn Siriyodhin told reporters.

“In July, the details should be out,” she said, declining to elaborate.

Ruchukorn did not confirm whether the measures would include a curb on the number of credit cards or a credit limit, as reported by some Thai media.

She said the central bank will take into consideration what impact new measures will have. “If there is too much tightening, it may make people turn to informal loans more,” she added.

At the end of 2016, Thailand’s household debt was nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product, among the highest in Asia.

Household debts have restrained consumption, traditionally a key driver of Thailand’s growth, which has lagged that of regional peers in recent years.

Last month, the BOT and banks announced a “debt clinic” programme to tackle some unsecured consumer loans that became bad credits.

Non-performing loans of Thai banks rose to 2.94 percent of total lending at the end of March from 2.83 percent at end-2016. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Richard Borsuk)