Bangkok, the 19th of July 2010: The over 300 hundred strong crowd gathered to demand that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government tackle their outstanding debt problems or face a prolonged protest in the capital until their demands are met.
The farmers, led by Mr. Prayuth Veerakitti, erected a stage outside of Thailand’s Government House to protest over the governments delays in allocating some Bt2 billion in debt relief funds granted recently by the Thai Cabinet.
Acting Secretary General of the Farmer’s Reconstruction and Development Fund, Mr. Sathit Wongnongtoey, met with representatives from the farmers in an attempt to resolve the problem, however; no conclusion has yet been reached.
The Farmer’s Reconstruction and Development Fund was setup by the government to manage funds allocated by the Thai Cabinet to deal with the restructuring of approximately Bt30 billion in debts. Consequently, the Thai Cabinet proposed a Bt2 billion fund to help the struggling farmers.
Under the terms of the initial agreement, the government announced that it would halve the existing debt of some 80,000 farmers provided that they undertake various industry-training programs and do not acquire further debts. As such, the government is now expected to seek a further Bt12 billion allocation to meet with their proposal, with debt figures spiralling much higher than first anticipated.
Protesters have now formed as creditors and state-owned banks began filing bankruptcy lawsuits against the farmers and their respective guarantors. The banks involved include, the Government Savings Bank, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Krung Thai Bank and the Government Housing Bank.
At present, the government has aided the struggling farmers by extending the repayment period on their debts to 15 years with a minimum retail interest rate of three percent although no funds have been forthcoming.