The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Thailand Corruption Watch: Thai civil servants hopelessly in debt, so watch your pockets

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 09•13

We don’t know what she’s selling, but whatever it is, Thai civil servants are buying it

Westerners doing business in Thailand frequently complain about the bribes they have to pay for many government-related services. Thais pay them too, but there’s a two-tiered structure, and farang always pay more. It what will surprise no one, it was reported in the January 9, 2013 issue of the Bangkok Post that Thai civil servants are carrying a huge amount of personal debt. 22 times their monthly salary, as it turns out (another way of looking at it: they’d have to work 22 more months without spending anything, just to pay it off).

Geez, we ask here at WoWasis, how are those guys ever gonna pay it off?! Debt service was accelerated during the Thaksin Shinawatra years, as the Prime Minister declared personal debt good for the country. Going into personal debt was absolutely patriotic, he gushed.  Here are some daunting statistics, collected from interviews with 13,252 civil servants…

83% of civil servants are in debt, with an average debt of 1,111,425 baht ($36,416 USD) per household. The average civil service salary is 49,915 baht ($1,635 USD, or $19,620 USD per year). What do these folks do to get in debt? 55% is in home loans, 17% for car loans, 15% in personal loans, 6% for loans to invest in family businesses, and 4% in educational loans.

ThailandPromoBannerThailand is a consumerist country where conspicuous consumption, especially among the young, has taken hold. The concept of saving for a rainy day is anathema for many. So if you’re doing business in Thailand, pony up! Salaries are fixed, but the grease you pay to get something done is on a sliding fee scale that only goes up.

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