BANGKOK – Thailand’s Cabinet has approved a plan to suspend debt repayments for millions of farmers for three years, totaling about 33 billion baht ($908 million) to the government, a deputy finance minister said Tuesday.
The suspension of both principal and interest payments will take effect on October 1, Julapun Amornvivat told reporters, adding that farmers who have kept up with interest payments will also be allowed to borrow up to 100,000 baht from the State Bank for Agriculture and Agriculture. Agricultural cooperatives.
The aim of the measure is to help ease the burden on farmers so that they “come back strong”, he said. About 2.7 million farmers are eligible to participate in the program.
Thailand, the world’s second-largest rice exporter, has one of the highest household debt burdens in Asia.
READ: Rising rice prices are sowing hope – and trouble – for indebted Thai farmers
According to government data, in 2021, 66.7 percent of all agricultural households had debt, largely from agriculture-related activities. Many farming families are financially burdened after borrowing to finance their crops, with debts that span generations.
The debt plan is part of a series of measures prepared by the new populist government, which took office last month, to revive a sluggish economy, which has been under pressure from falling exports and falling investor confidence.
The suspension will cost the government about 11 billion baht ($302.8 million) a year, Julapun said, adding that the Cabinet approved about 12 billion baht on Tuesday.
($1 = 36.34 baht)