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SUNDAY, October 01, 2023

New government should tackle household debt: Energy Minister

New government should tackle household debt: Energy Minister
MONDAY, May 29, 2023

The outgoing government is hoping that the new government will continue its efforts to tackle rising household debt among Thais, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said on Sunday.

Supattanapong, who was tasked with tackling the household debt issue, said he was not leaving a mess for the new government to clean up.

Last week, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) reported that Thailand’s household debt has continued to increase due to the impacts of Covid-19, reaching 15.09 trillion baht in the fourth quarter of last year, or 3.5% from the previous quarter.

The ratio of household debt to gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 86.9%, marginally lower than in Q3 2022, when it was recorded at 88.1%

“This government has been working on reducing household debt throughout its term, and I hope that the new government will continue to do the same,” said Supattanapong. “Our aim was to bring the debt down to less than 80% of GDP, as it has been over that percentage for the last 10 years.”

Noting that many Thais have taken out loans to buy houses or cars which, while essential to their lives and helping the economy, has pushed them into debt, efficient debt management must be promoted.

He said that the current government has also enacted the Debt Collection Act of 2015 to ensure fairness in debt collection and prevent the incurring of interest higher than the legal limit, allowing people to settle their debt easier.

The government also tasked state agencies that provide loans to their employees/members via cooperatives, such as cooperatives for teachers, labourers and farmers, to employ measures that facilitate debt repayments while ensuring that borrowers can maintain their livelihoods without incurring more debts, he added.

Asked if he thinks the new government’s policy would cause household debt to rise, Supattanapong declined to comment, saying that no judgement could be made until the new government commences work.