Working-class’ debt surges to six-year peak


The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) says majority of Thai workers–93 per cent–are trapped in a cycle of debt, the biggest leap in five years.

UTCC Economic and Business Research Centre Director Thanawat Polvichai said the survey conducted among those with monthly incomes lower than Bt15,000 shows that the average debt at 93.7 per cent of Thailand’s working-class families amounts to some Bt106,216, while average monthly debt repayment is around Bt6,600.

Some 56.1 per cent are trapped in a cycle of informal debt, with monthly repayments of Bt7,400. The figure represents a six year peak. The remaining 43.9 per cent pay about Bt5,450 a month to the banks and other financial institutions. The poll also showed that only 23.9 per cent are saving any income, the lowest figure in six years.

Meanwhile, 74.3 per cent are suffering account imbalances as their income cannot support the rising price of goods and fuel as well as high interest rates.

Many are in unstable careers, with 28.9 per cent at risk of losing their jobs. They said they were concerned about volatile food prices and layoffs since the Thai economy likely to grow less than 2.5 per cent this year.

The working class urges the government to raise the daily minimum wage form Bt300 to Bt388 to cover basic living expenses. Minimum daily income should increase to Bt498 in the next three years and Bt579 in the next five years to cope with the rising cost of living.

The caretaker government is rated below last year for its labour policy at only 5.1. They have been urged to put an end on prolonged political conflict that damaging the economy.

Meanwhile, consumer spending on May 1, Thailand’s National Labour Day, is expected to increase 2.3 per cent to almost Bt2 billion from some Bt1.9 million last year.