The Government Savings Bank (GSB) has told staff to proceed next month in filing lawsuits against teachers and other education personnel who have not agreed to measures relaxing debt-repayment conditions introduced by the bank in May.
The directive issued to executives and branch-office directors on Wednesday comes after 100 teachers vowed on July 14 to stop repaying loans from the Funeral Service Welfare Fund for Teachers and Education Personnel and the GSB, starting on August 1.
They urged 450,000 other debtors to join them under the Maha Sarakham Declaration to halt debt repayments in order to pressure the government and the GSB to offer a six-month moratorium on payment of instalments.
They said they were willing to repay their debts, but they wanted the annual interest rate lowered from the current 5-7 per cent to 1 per cent, the same rate offered to farmers repaying government loans.
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said he did not want the matter to reach a point where the bank would have to sue the teachers, saying it could hurt their standing in the civil service.
Justice Ministry deputy permanent secretary Thawatchai Thaikhiew had said earlier that teachers who failed to repay loans exceeding Bt1 million could be forced into bankruptcy for three years, along with any guarantors.
He said bankruptcy would disqualify the teachers for positions in the |civil service under the Government Teacher and Education Personnel Act 2004.
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin yesterday said most government teachers did not agree with the Maha Sarakham Declaration, which was announced by a group of current and retired teachers earlier this month.
“More than 90 per cent of indebted teachers have good repayment records. Just 10 per cent have had problems repaying,” Teerakiat said.
He said he had heard that the declaration drew such intense criticism that the group’s members had decided to backtrack.
“Most of the group members are retirees,” he said.