As the Thai government slowly lifts COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions, businesses must now face the challenges of operating in this new environment. Changes are confronting everyone, and businesses in every industry must adapt. In Thailand, there is some financial help available as companies feel the impact from COVID-19. We at GPS Legal have compiled an overview of the current programs in place.
Loan repayment and restructuring
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) defined two types of debtors in February to carve out non-performing loans (NPLs) from many of initiatives. “Debt restructuring” would apply to loans not yet in default for over 90 days (deemed NPLs), and “troubled debt restructuring” would apply to NPLs.
SMEs not owing NPLs with credit lines under 100 million baht should automatically have received a loan payment holiday, for both principal and interest, for six months. This is to allow SMEs much-needed liquidity, but, more importantly, the BOT urges banks to work with borrowers to restructure loans and payments considering current and likely future economic turmoil.
Special loan programs
Please note that you can apply for most of these programs until December 2020. However, you should contact the relevant lender for specific criteria and deadlines.
In April 2020, the Bank of Thailand established a 500-million-baht soft loan program through Thai financial institutions. Banks can access these funds at a 0.01% interest rate for two years, so that they can offer SMEs loans with 2% interest rates. As added incentives, the government will pay the first six-months of the 2% interest for the SME borrower. The government has also offered to defray the cost of any resulting non-performing loans from this program. Nevertheless, SME borrowers must:
- be operating domestically;
- not be publicly listed;
- not have current bank debt over 500 million baht; and
- Not be in default for any loans for more than 90 days.
Please note that specific financial institutions offering these soft loans may also have other criteria, including risk management plans and financial history. However, these should not include special fees or added insurance requirements. If you have any questions, you can contact BOT’s Supervision Group (Tel: +66 (0) 2283 5903, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Furthermore, the Government Savings Bank (GSB), and SME Development Bank all have their own lending programs with loosened criteria and low interest rates. Specifically, from the SME Development Bank, majority-Thai owned SMEs in the travel, tourism, and restaurant sectors may be eligible for up to three-million-baht, five-year loans at 3% interest for the first year.
In addition to the various loan programs, the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TGC) (link to Thai site) is offering up to 30 million baht guarantees over three years, with no guarantee fees for the first two years. The TGC is also extending its existing Portfolio Guarantee Schemes 5 to 7 by another five years and is waiving the guarantee fees.
Furthermore, borrowers of these soft loans can deduct 1.5 times the interest paid from 1 April to December 2020, as long as they register with the Revenue Department, do not have more than 200 employees, and had taxable income of less than 500 million baht in the previous 12-month accounting period.
Other forms of assistance for SMEs
Other government authorities are also offering relief.
The utility authorities announced a 3% reduction in electricity (link to Thai site) and water fees for April through June 2020, along with no interest for up to six-months in late payments for April and May 2020.
The Social Security Office announced that employers will have their monthly contributions decreased to 4% (from 5%).
Furthermore, the Revenue Department has announced a wide range of filing extensions, special deductions, and other initiatives to assist businesses during this difficult period.
Need help getting the right assistance?
While these initiatives focus on small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), there are other programs for larger businesses as well as for individuals.
GPS Legal understands you and your business may be going through a rocky time financially. And, while there seems to be many programs available, they can be hard to navigate, especially if you do not speak Thai. Let us know if we can help. Contact GPS Legal today.