Debt ensnares thousands of police

Debt ensnares thousands of police

Pol Lt Gen Boonlert Jaipradit, right, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 4, discusses the plight of heavily indebted officers in Khon Kaen on Friday. (Photo by Chakrapan Nathanri)
Pol Lt Gen Boonlert Jaipradit, right, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 4, discusses the plight of heavily indebted officers in Khon Kaen on Friday. (Photo by Chakrapan Nathanri)

About 2,500 police officers in the upper Northeast are defaulting on debts and about 600 are facing bankruptcy lawsuits, a regional police chief said on Friday.

The problem needs an urgent solution because officers who are bankrupt are not allowed to remain on the force, said Pol Lt Gen Boonlert Jaipradit, the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 4.

Senior officers met on Friday at the Region 4 headquarters in Khon Kaen to discuss ways to help indebted officers. The region comprises 12 provinces in the upper Northeast.

Pol Lt Gen Boonlert said some of those facing bankruptcy lawsuits in court held ranks as high as police colonel.

He said he recently had to dismiss five officers in Udon Thani who had been declared bankrupt.

Police officers earn an average of 14,760 baht per month but junior positions pay much less, between 6,800 and 8,340 baht, and officers have to buy their own guns and even office supplies.

Low pay has long been cited as the main contributor to widespread corruption in the force. Better salaries are seen as a key element of police reform, but Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said the task is too big an issue for his administration to tackle and must be left to the next government.

"About 13,000 officers of Region 4 owe the Government Savings Bank (GSB) about 9 billion baht," said Pol Lt Gen Boonlert. "Of that total, 2,500 officers have defaulted and their combined debt was about 2 billion baht.

"About 600 officers are being sued for bankruptcy. Most of the indebted police officers are non-commissioned ones."

Region 4 officials have responded by asking the GSB to discuss debt restructuring. The process has already helped 1,100 officers whose debts total about 900 million baht. Negotiations are under way for 1,200 officers with combined debts of about 1 billion baht.

For the 600 officers whose cases have already reached court, they would have to find enough money to repay their debts right away if they wanted to keep their jobs, Pol Lt Gen Boonlert said.

He ordered chiefs in all the 12 provinces to try to persuade the GSB to help the 600 officers.


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