Industry Ministry to suspend small firms’ debts

The debt suspension covers operators in food, drinks, herbs, jewellery, souvenirs and clothing. VARUTH HIRUNYATHEB

March 30, 2020

The Industry Ministry plans to roll out rescue measures by suspending debt payments for 6-12 months for small community enterprises for several industries affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The measure covers businesses in food, drinks, herbs, jewellery, souvenirs and clothing. Local producers can apply for debt suspension in April.

The Industrial Promotion Department under the Industry Ministry has extended loans to 2,500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and community enterprises through a revolving fund for household industries and handicrafts.

The fund covers 77 provinces with a total credit limit of 370 million baht and a 200,000-baht limit per person.

Some 771 businesses are eligible for the debt suspension, including 557 already making normal payments that can suspend the debt for 12 months valued at 134 million baht.

A debtor who has been late on payment for three months can suspend the debt for six months, which applies to 194 businesses with a total of 43.9 million baht in debt.

Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Industrial Promotion Department, said many SMEs and community enterprises have had production delayed, orders cancelled and raw materials run short because of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Mostly, revenue and incomes have dropped due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and many SMEs and community enterprises cannot afford to operate and need support measures,” he said.

Mr Nattapol said SMEs and community enterprises are the backbone of the economy and account for 80% of the country’s GDP, boosting employment and income distribution in local economies.

Since 2017, the government has provided 20 billion baht in soft loans under the Pracha Rat fund, aimed at helping SMEs.

Earlier this year, the Industry Ministry expected to spend 800 million baht to develop and support SMEs and community enterprises in Thailand in 2020.

The Industrial Promotion Department is primarily focused on local farms that the government wants to transform from traditional agriculture to modern methods through tech and innovation under Thailand 4.0.

Source: Bangkok Post