By Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai
“Most of their victims are farmers,” DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said on Tuesday.
He spoke after emerging from a meeting with 21 relevant authorities on how to help farmers who are on the verge of losing their land to lenders.
During the past five years, alleged loan sharks have filed complaints against debtors in court to evict them from land plots used as collateral to secure loans.
“The victims have entered into unfair contracts and risk losing their land,” Paisit said.
Farmers from Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham and Kalasin have called on the DSI for help.
If loan sharks refuse to negotiate with victims and offer fair interest rates, his agency will ask the Customs Department to tax them retroactively, he said.
Amnuay Patise, who chairs a committee on solving farmers’ debt problems, said there were 1,200 legal cases involving seven or eight loan-shark networks.
“The government can help farmers by transferring their debts from loan sharks to the Government Savings Bank or the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives instead,” he said.
He added that relevant authorities expected to solve the problem within three months.
Office of the Prime Minister’s deputy secretary-general Sompas Nilapund said the government might consider allocating land for farmers who had lost their plots to loan sharks.
“These land plots are for them to make a living only,” he said.