Low-interest loans for Thai nationals returning home from the Hamas-Israel war

date_range 01-Nov-2023
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Each Thai worker who returned from Israel as a result of the Hamas-Israel war will be eligible for low-interest loans from the government of up to 150,000 baht. With the money, they can pay off debts to employment brokers or use it to explore other career opportunities.

The cabinet had directed the Government Savings Bank (GSB) and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to lend two billion baht to Thai workers in Israel when the conflict broke out on October 7, according to Paopoom Rojanasakul, secretary to the finance minister.

Before moving to work in Israel, people who were independent contractors or vendors may apply to the GSB for loans up to 150,000 baht each, while those who were farmers in the past may borrow the same amount from the BAAC, according to Mr. Paopoom.

He claimed that because of the war, several Thai laborers were forced to return home before finishing their contracts, and they were left with insufficient funds to settle their bills or explore other opportunities.

He said that some chose to stay in Israel because they were worried that if they had gone home, they would not have made enough money to settle their obligations.

According to Mr. Paopoom, the low-interest loan program was therefore approved by the cabinet to lessen their situation.

The terms of the loan allow for a grace period of up to 12 months and a payback period of up to 20 years, according to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.

According to him, workers can apply for the loan between now and June 30. It has an annual interest rate of 3%, of which borrowers will pay 1% and the government would subsidize the remaining amount.

In addition to the 15,000 baht that Thai returnees have already received from the Labour Ministry's fund for Thai workers abroad, Mr. Chai continued, "Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn also proposed at yesterday's cabinet meeting that Thai returnees be given another 50,000 baht in compensation from the central budget earmarked for emergency purposes."

"The minister also recommended that 5,000–6,000 workers who returned in the early phases of the war receive the 50,000-baht compensation," Mr. Chai stated.

"More details must be presented by the Labour Ministry, and the prime minister pledged to discuss this at the next cabinet meeting."

To discuss assistance for Thais kidnapped by Hamas, Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara started his trip to Qatar and Egypt yesterday.

Later on yesterday, he was scheduled to meet with the foreign minister and prime minister of Qatar in Doha, and today he was scheduled to meet with the foreign minister of Egypt in Cairo.

According to Mr. Parnpree, "the Thai government is opening all possible negotiation channels to coordinate with Hamas and seek the release of the [Thai] hostages as soon as possible."

It was revealed on Monday by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin that 22 Thais were being kept captive. None of the others could be reached.

Mr. Parnpree reiterated, "It is imperative that all Thai nationals residing in Israel return home as soon as possible."