By The Nation
The poll of 1,171 people conducted on August 24-28 found that out of the indebted respondents (most of whom had debts even before this year), 37.6 per cent were in debt for housing, followed by car payments (28.2 per cent), loans with illegal money-lenders (18.8 per cent) and loans with banks (17 per cent).
The three most-cited loan sources were commercial banks (36.4 per cent), finance/leasing companies (16.7 per cent) and loan sharks (15.3 per cent), Bansomdej Poll executive Singh Singkhajorn told the press yesterday.
About 40 per cent of the indebted respondents owed under Bt100,000, while 30.6 per cent owed between Bt100,000-Bt500,000 and 17.4 per cent between Bt500,000-Bt1 million. Another 8.2 per cent owed between Bt1 million-Bt3 million, 2.7 per cent between Bt3 million-Bt5 million and 1.1 per cent owed more than Bt5 million.
Some 53 per cent admitted to missing repayments, while 34.4 per cent said otherwise and 12.2 per cent were unsure.
More than two-thirds (67.5 per cent) knew about the legal interest rate.
About 46 per cent had been subjected to communication regarding repayment (33.5 per cent via letters and 19.6 per cent via debt collectors’ rude verbal communication).
About 22.8 per cent of the in-debt respondents said they had been subject to lawsuits and asset seizure over unpaid overdue debts.
As for their awareness about the Thai government’s measures to aid the creditors, 40 per cent of the respondents said they knew about new loan sources such as The Bank of Thailand (BOT) Debt Clinic, the provincial-level “Pico Finance” loans under Finance Ministry’s supervision (to handle smaller cases and with loans not exceeding Bt50,000) and the BOT-supervised “Nano Finance” loans for vocational aid (to handle larger loans up to Bt100,000).
Slightly over half said they were interested in joining the Debt Clinic, while about a third were interested in the Pico Finance loans, the poll found. FFC secretary-general and Chaladsue magazine editor Saree Ongsomwang said Pico Finance and Nano Finance charged a high interest of up to 36 per cent per year, and therefore were not truly helping consumers. They urged the government to set the interest rate at 15 per cent per year to truly aid the people.
Narumon Mekborisut, chief of the foundation’s Consumer Rights Protection Centre, said Bangkok residents still didn’t have enough information to decide whether to partake in the government’s debt-tackling measures, including the Debt Clinic. Narumon cited Credit Card Debtors’ Club president Chuchat Boonyongyot’s comment in the magazine’s 209th edition (July 2018) that none had at the time passed strict criteria to use the Debt Clinic services.
Narumon also cited the FFC report that from January 1 until September 30, a total of 392 complaints were filed about financial matters – 349 of which were about debts. Among the debt complainants, 106 owed to credit cards, 105 owed to leasing, 80 owed to normal loans and four owed to loan sharks. A total of 152 debtors faced legal actions, while 11 claimed to have been subjected to illegal methods of debt collection.
As many respondents were unaware of the Debt Collection Act, she urged the government to speedily pass criteria to control debt-collection fees. She also urged creating a committee to campaign about the law and to send a letter to the Royal Thai Police and the Provincial Administration Department to enforce the law.