The Finance Ministry will "accommodate" first-time car buyers who cannot make their payments, says Deputy Minister Tanusak Lek-uthai.
Some 1.25 million car buyers have taken advantage of the government's first-time buyer scheme, an initiative offering tax rebates of up to 100,000 baht on new cars and pickup trucks.
Buyers must maintain title of their vehicle for at least five years or else repay the tax rebate to the government.
Under the terms of the scheme, the Comptroller-General's Department is responsible for recovering taxes from buyers failing to meet the conditions.
But Mr Tanusak said he wants to minimise any potential problems for car buyers.
"I will consult with the Comptroller-General's Department about meeting with auto finance firms to see whether there can be some leeway," he said.
"I don't want to see the government having to sue people. I'm going to set as a policy that we have to help them."
Mr Tanusak said in any case, there is no clear indication as yet of significant problems with buyers making payments.
He acknowledged it may be too early to see whether loan defaults will be a problem but said he expects clearer signs after the first five or six months of payments.
The tax rebate scheme was launched in late 2011 as a means of boosting consumer spending and the auto sector after a sharp decline in sales caused by the massive floods.
The programme, open to small-engine passenger cars worth less than 1 million baht and certain pickup trucks, exceeded all expectations and helped drive auto production last year to an all-time record of 2.45 million vehicles, up by 123% from 2011.
The Thailand Automotive Institute said domestic sales totalled 1.43 million, up by 161% from 2011. So far, 4 billion baht in tax rebates have been paid out to 50,000 first-time buyers who purchased their car at least 12 months ago.
By September, the Finance Ministry expects up to 70% of all participants under the programme to have received their rebates.
About the author
- Writer: Wichit Chantanusornsiri
Position: Business Reporter