By The Nation
“Please don’t just say this or that proposal is not possible. Please also tell us how to solve the problems,” said Suwach Srisod, president of Critically Indebted Teachers and Educational Personnel Club.
According to him, about 50,000 government teachers or retired teachers are in serious debt.
“Some of these teachers have no home anymore. They have to stay at temples,” said Suwach, a senior teacher in Lampang province.
The rally took place after the so-called Maha Sarakham Declaration, established by another group of teachers, drew heavy criticism from the public. Teachers backing the declaration urged borrowers to stop repayments until financial institutions offered better conditions.
Following the declaration, the Government Savings Bank (GSB) said it would take legal action against defaulters. The GSB said, however, that it would help teachers by suspending the interest on repayments for three years.
Only 1 per cent of teachers have taken advantage of the GSB offer, Suwach said, because most realise that they will not be able to continue repayments after normal payments resume.
Repayment conditions ‘too harsh’
“If teachers take out a Bt1.2-million loan, they will be required to pay Bt7,500 as monthly instalments. Of that amount, Bt6,000 will cover interest and Bt1,500 the principal. This means after the three-year interest suspension ends, teachers may have to pay about Bt12,000 a month to cover the [accumulated] interest that was suspended earlier,” he said.
Suwach said teachers did not want to default but felt the repayment conditions were too harsh.
“Please offer an appropriate rate of interest and repayment terms,” he said.
Pimchanok Maruthanin, a teacher at a Chiang Mai-based college, said that she was on the verge of losing her house.
“The Government Housing Bank [GHB] has sued me and auctioned off my house,” she said.
She lamented taking a loan for the house in which her family has lived for a long time.
“My dad, who was also a teacher, bought this house. At the time of his passing, he had still not repaid the debt. So, I had to take over the house debt,” Pimchanok said.
She said because she also owed money to the GSB and a teachers’ cooperative, the GHB could deduct Bt3,600 a month from her salary.
“In the end, I am overwhelmed with debt,” she said. “The GHB then went to the court to foreclose my house.”
Pimchanok said that some robust men had turned up at her house twice already, demanding that her elderly mother move away. “My mom is scared,” she said.
Legal Execution Department director-|general Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol said Pimchanok was at the house auction but did not attempt to negotiate her debt with the GHB.
“We found that her debt is now about Bt9.15 million” to various lenders, Ruenvadee said. “Her house value is estimated at Bt1.88 million.”