Thailand relaxes rules on soft loans and mulls monthly long weekends next year

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has further relaxed rules on a soft loan programme to help SMEs financially.
By: | December 31, 2020

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has further relaxed rules on its 500-billion-baht (US$16 million) soft loan programme to help smaller businesses cope with difficulties caused by the pandemic. 

SMEs are facing a situation where they still have insufficient income to support their businesses due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation, said BoT.  

As such, the BoT has adjusted its definition of businesses groups entitled to seek financing so as to give SMEs easier access to the programme which started in April as part of a bigger pandemic response package.  

In addition, the BoT will allow SMEs to apply for the funding twice instead of once previously, before April 18, 2021, it said.  

Though the central bank has so far approved about 123-billion-baht (US$4 billion) worth of loans, the loan programme has been slow to gain traction as applicants say the lending conditions were tough, according to Bangkok Post.  

Separately, the government, on its part, is considering to add one long weekend per month next year to stimulate the economy, said Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn.  

For example, he said, Chinese New Year, which falls on a Friday next year, can be designated as a public holiday, effectively forming a long weekend. Chinese New Year is not an official public holiday in Thailand. 

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He said his ministry will ask the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to let foreigners visit Thailand and make quarantine arrangements so that guests can leave their rooms but not the hotel, though he added the caveat that this suggestion would be considered only if the new wave of infections has improved. 

The Public Health Ministry is also expected to consider reducing the number of quarantine days from 14 to 10, though the CCSA has yet to give it the go-ahead, said The Nation Thailand.