By The Nation
Padiphat Santiphada posted on his Facebook wall Sunday that he cannot afford to pay the debt in one go but will repay it in installments, as allowed by the fund, because most of his Bt8 million in assets are not cash and he has to spend his MP’s salary on political activities.
Padiphat was among four Future Forward MPs who declared debts to the Student Loan Fund. The three other MPs are Rangsimun Rome (party-list), Natcha Boonchai-insawat (Bangkok) and Phiradej Khamsamut (Chiang Rai), who owe Bt202,360, Bt35,549 and Bt83,433 respectively. Padiphat owes Bt85,667.
The four were strongly criticized on social networks for taking advantage of society by not repaying their debts in a lump sum, thus giving the fund more money to lend to other students. Critics were vocal in saying that it was unfair to poor students for MPs earning more than Bt100,000 a month to make repayments over the 15 years allowed.
In his post, Padiphat explained that he enrolled at university during a period when his family was facing economic hardship. Three siblings were studying at university at the same time, so the family decided to borrow money from the fund.
Padiphat said his debt was high when he finished his studies but was unable to repay much because his subsequent employment, as a veterinarian for wild animals and with a non-profit Christian organization, paid low salaries. He said his family had recovered financially and had been paying the installments on his behalf, adding that the full debt would be paid off in two years.
Padiphat said he got his first MP’s salary in June and spent most of it visiting constituents and covering the expenses of his team.
He said his Bt8 million in assets declared to the NACC included his parents’ house worth Bt7 million, funds invested in the stock market and the gold his wife received as a gift on their wedding day. He added he doesn’t have enough cash in hand to settle the remaining debt with the Student Loan Fund.
Earlier, Rangsimun posted on his Facebook wall that he does not have enough cash to hand to settle his debt of more than Bt200,000 as a one-off payment because he has to manage his salary.
He declared that he has assets worth Bt222,623 while his outstanding debt with the Student Loan Fund is Bt202,360. Rangsimun said he has only Bt20,000 in cash while the other declared assets are interest and insurance money that will be paid in the future.