Government gives loan sharks ultimatum to join debt settlement programme

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2024

May 31 is the “final deadline” for illegal lenders to join the government’s debt settlement programme, or they will face strict legal action, Deputy Interior Minister Chada Thaised said on Thursday.

He said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin had identified the problem of illegal lending as among the government’s top priorities.

The Interior Ministry has managed to get more than 100,000 cases of illegal lending into the programme but many more creditors and debtors involved in illegal lending have yet to join in, he said.

“From now on, we will focus on making those creditors come under the law before May 31, which is the final deadline,” said Chada, who is an adviser to the government committee tasked with tackling the problem of illegal lending.

“The government wants to ensure fairness for both creditors and debtors. We want to get the [underground] money into the system. Anyone who fails to cooperate will face strict action,” he added.

“We can’t wait any longer. This is the last chance for [illegal] lenders to do business legally. They have 14 more days,” Chada said.

He suggested that those illegal lenders report themselves to local administrative authorities or the police, otherwise they would be investigated by the Revenue Department regarding their income.

The deputy minister was speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the illegal lending panel at Government House. The meeting was chaired by Kittiratt Na-Ranong, the prime minister’s chief adviser who heads the government-appointed committee.

Government gives loan sharks ultimatum to join debt settlement programme

According to the National Statistical Office data, illegal lending amounts to about 50 billion baht, but the committee has raised the estimate to 100 billion baht, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke told the press conference.

He said the number of people registering to join the debt settlement programme was far lower than the government’s target.

Kittiratt on Thursday called on debtors of the illegal lending to join the programme, pointing out that interest rates for loans that are higher than the legal limits are considered void.

He said that by joining the programme, both lenders and debtors could be guaranteed fair treatment regarding the debts involved.

“The debtors who register for the programme could rest assured that they would get all the loaned money back at proper interest rates. Also, they can continue lending legally. Lenders who fail to register would be seen as not wanting their money back,” said Kittiratt, a former finance minister.