Branches of the Government Saving Bank in two southern provinces were crowded on Monday with people seeking to verify reports that the bank will lend money to the government to repay rice farmers in debt under rice-pledging scheme.
Some of them were seen withdrawing their savings out of fear their money will be used to help pay the debts to the farmers.
Their officials wore black in protest at the bank’s decision to be part of the government's struggling efforts to repay the Bt130 billion its owes to the rice farmers.
In Satun, the bank’s administration hung a banner on the front which read, “The bank will not use customers' savings to repay the rice-pledging scheme”.
Pun Sripat, 48, said that she monitored news reports about the issue but was not sure if the reports were accurate. However, she said the report was later confirmed so she, along with relatives and neighbours came to the bank to withdraw their savings.
However, some customers have confidence that the bank will not use their savings to repay the debts. Some of them were seen depositing money into their accounts.
The bank's manager Sompob Panthong meanwhile said the bank has earlier assured customers that the bank would not use their savings. “The customers understand the situation,” he said.
The bank's Krabi branch saw many customers withdrew the money from their accounts out of fear that the bank will use their savings to help fund the scheme.
Chatchawan Ritthirueng, 56, said he and his wife believe that the bank would give their savings to help the government repay the debts. “So we came here to withdraw most of the money from the account and leave just Bt500.
The branch's manager Patcharee Narawisut said that many customers today came to withdraw their savings. “All I can do is to tell them not to be panic. I did not know yet the total amount of money withdrawn. I already informed the provincial bank's administration,” she said.
The numbers of people withdrawing money today are relatively higher than before, she said.