SOME 100 teachers on Saturday launched a campaign calling for the government and the Government Savings Bank (GSB) to allow a six-month moratorium in debt repayment to the Funeral Service Welfare for Teachers and Education Personnel fund.
The group, who said they were suffering from overwhelming debts from the fund, also urged 450,000 borrowers nationwide to stop repaying their debts to GSB branches from August 1 onward to further pressure the government.
After that six-month grace period, starting on October 1, the group also demanded that the annual interest charged on the fund’s debtors be lowered to 1 per cent, as was applied to the government’s loan to farmers. Teachers currently pay between 5 per cent and 7 per cent on loans.
Tuang Anthachai, chairman of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) committee on education and sports, came to collect the group’s demand at a conference hall in Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University on Saturday. They urged the NLA and the government to set up a special committee to find solutions for the overwhelming debt.
Teacher Auychai Watha said for the past seven years he had paid a monthly instalment of over Bt7,000 to repay the Bt1.2 million he had borrowed. Though the capital amount owed had been reduced by Bt100,000, it left him still owing Bt1.1 million.
Auychai said that others who had also borrowed from the fund were made to buy 10-year insurance policies, paid for through a single payment of between Bt80,000 and Bt200,000. He said neither the fund nor the GSB offered an option that would allow the debts to be paid down faster.
The group’s video, which went viral this week, drew much criticism on social media. Many said any “debt repayment avoidance” approach would break the law or loan contracts. It was inappropriate for such actions to be committed by those whose status as teachers held them up as examples for the nation’s youth, they argued.