From Manager, December 6, 2016
Someone from CP Group/7-11 calls government minister Somkid Jatusripitak (pictured) and says to him: Brother Guang [nickname of Somkid], when will the money you give to the poor arrive at my store?
Sign behind the woman: Informal debt repayment. [This means something like “loan shark” and refers to the constant small loans taken out by rural people from local gangs. The woman and the man beside her are stereotypical images of rural loan sharks.]
[Somkid Jatusripitak is a respected economic expert, once a founding member of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party and now a member of the junta.
This cartoon refers to government policy to improve the economy by giving money directly to the poor to stimulate spending. The cartoonist points out that this policy will have little impact on the lives of rural people.
Those receiving money will likely have it siphoned off by the local loan shark industry. If it is spent elsewhere, the money will go to chain stores like 7-11 which lines the pockets of rich Bangkok billionaires.
The issue of fighting the loan shark industry has been taken up by most governments with little apparent success. Not only do informal lenders seek to entangle the poor in debt, but rural people seem eager to take out such loans with little regard for the eventual repayment.
Fighting the load sharks during the Yingluck era: Loan sharks and rural debt in Thailand
And microfinance during Thaksin’s time in power (this program in particular caused wide alarm in politics as the program was seen as merely a slush fund that would cause village leaders to be beholden to Thaksin’s political machine): When Thailand’s government started offering microfinance loans to villagers, did anyone benefit?]