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BOT eases access to its ‘debt clinic’ for borrowers

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The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has made adjustments to its “debt clinic” project, making it easier for debtors suffering from the Covid-19 fallout to seek help.

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Thanyanit Niyomkarn, BOT’s assistant governor, said the committee supervising the project has adjusted conditions to help debtors in line with the central bank’s second phase of measures. The adjustments are as follows:

1. Applicants must now have non-performing loans (NPLs) from before July 1 instead of January 1.

“We expect more applicants,” she said. “Applicants must prepare all documents before applying as it will speed up the consideration process. Officials will contact the applicants as soon as the consideration process is completed.”

2. Under new adjustments, applicants can seek a new loan within five years provided they have repaid at least 50 per cent of their previous debt. Earlier, debtors were prohibited from taking new loans for five years.

“However, whether the debtor’s request for a new loan is approved or not will depend on the financial service provider,” Thanyanit said. “This adjustment is aimed to encourage debtors to participate in the project and repay their debts as soon as possible.”

3. Financial service providers will be instructed to offer debtors a debt-restructuring plan in line with BOT’s debt clinic.

“Since the number of debtors will rise due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it is very important for creditors and debtors to negotiate on restructuring debt,” Thanyanit said. “Most people are overdrawn on their credit cards, instead of other debts.”

She added that the debt clinic project aims to prevent a debt crisis, which may lead to debtors being prosecuted and having their assets seized.

Thanyanit is encouraging people to visit the BOT website, Facebook or Line page or call (02) 610 2266 from Monday to Friday (8.30am to 5pm) for more information on the project.

“We also warn people to not fall for fraudsters who pretend to be BOT officials and demand operating charges to restructure their debts. If approached by a conman, call the BOT Financial Consumer Protection Centre at 1213," she said.

Published : July 17, 2020

By : The Nation