3,000 indebted farmers rally at state bank GHB

About 3,000 farmers rallied yesterday at the Government Housing Bank (GHB), demanding the bank halt legal action over non-performing assets (NPAs).

About 3,000 indebted farmers rally in front of the head office of the Government Housing Bank on Rama IX Road. They demanded the bank speed up the transfer of their debts, worth 600 million baht, to the Farmers’ Reconstruction and Development Fund. They said the transfer has already been delayed for nine years. THANARAK KHOONTON

The group, comprising farmers from 26 provinces, does not want the bank to sell their NPAs, which include farmland, after many farmers failed to repay debts.

Charin Duangdara, an adviser to the network of indebted farmers, said the bank should transfer NPAs worth more than 600 million baht to the Farmers' Reconstruction and Development Fund (FRDF) within six months.

Mr Charin said the farmers want the state-run fund, of which they are members, to oversee their assets.

The farmers are worried that if the bank sells their assets to third parties it will be difficult to redeem them.

"We have waited for the transfer for nine years but no action has been taken," Mr Charin said. He said the FRDF is willing to pay the interest and principal committed by farmers to the bank.

His group also wants the bank to immediately stop taking legal action against farmers who fail to repay loans, including filing bankruptcy lawsuits.

The bank has taken 100 bankruptcy cases to court already, Mr Charin said.

The farmers, who borrowed money from the bank to buy houses and invest in farming, claimed they staged the protest because the bank broke its debt agreements with them.

The bank had earlier promised to reduce the interest rate, cut the principal by half and not sell the farmers' NPAs, protest leader Pinkaeo Kaeosukthae said.

She vowed to continue the rally unless bank representatives hold talks with them.

The protesters gave the bank until 10am today to respond, and intended to camp out at the bank overnight.