Thai household debt rises to new heights

Outstanding balance of home loans decelerate though



Household debt in Thailand hit THB13 trillion (USD423.9 billion) in the first quarter of 2019, up 6.3 percent year-on-year, according to a new report by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

The figure, the highest on record since the first quarter of 2017, currently accounts for a staggering 78.7 percent of the kingdom’s GDP.

However, household debt is “unlikely to increase over 80 percent of GDP” this year, given a projected economic growth of three percent, NESDC secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisamphand was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

The rise of household debt in the country has not let up since mid-2017, NESDC officials noted. With commercial banks granting 9.2 percent more personal loans in the second quarter, household debt may continue its ascent for the rest of the year.

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“Household debt is likely to increase in the second quarter and it requires close monitoring,” Thosaporn said.

Outstanding balance of housing loans granted by commercial banks already rose 7.8 percent in Q1 2019, while that of personal loans grew 11.3 percent.

Yet slower demand for homes means issuance of housing loans is likely to decelerate in the second half of the year, especially on account of the recent restrictions on lending by financial institutions. The outstanding balance of home loans is actually down from that of the previous quarter, during which it rose 9.1 percent.

The central bank has unleashed a spate of regulations to curb household debt in the kingdom, including the imposition of tightened loan-to-value ratios on home loans.