Army, KTB unite to battle soldiers’ debts

Army, KTB unite to battle soldiers' debts

The army has joined forces with Krungthai Bank Plc (KTB) to help resolve the debts of more than 7,000 soldiers who find themselves in dire financial straits.

In a seminar on a financial management programme yesterday, Gen Mahasak Thephasadin Na Ayudhya, the army’s special adviser, met Kobsak Pootrakool, chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco), and Payong Srivanich, chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association and KTB president.

The seminar was held to educate army personnel about debt and how to manage and get out of it.

The programme would improve soldiers’ welfare, especially among the rank and file whose financial burden was drastically increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the army, the programme is part of a wider government policy to tackle rising household debt. The government has issued measures including date extensions, debt moratoriums and providing financial aid to soldiers struggling with loan repayments.

The head of the Army Welfare Department, Maj Gen Sampan Damrongkul, said the army chief is looking to resolve debt issues for soldiers, particularly those in the “red” zone — those who are left with less than a third of their monthly salaries after fixed expenses and debt repayments are deducted. Some are also at risk of defaulting on loans or being declared bankrupt.

Those who face bankruptcy have been dismissed from military service, which adversely affects their families.

The department has initiated a debt moratorium programme, for which 7,245 soldiers have applied, lasting ten months. The agency has also introduced a personal debt management programme for soldiers in the red group.

After screening, 271 soldiers in the red group met the criteria and were granted a debt moratorium to be financed by a 428 million baht budget.

In addition, the department also came up with a financial management programme for soldiers in the “green” group — those with little or no financial problems — from private first class to colonel to prevent them from getting deep into debt.

It said it would also support schemes where soldiers and their families can start small businesses to boost incomes.