Bounced cheques carom

The value of bounced cheques in January surged 20.35% over the same period last year to 12.3 billion baht, a fresh sign of the cash crunch affecting businesses, and possibly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), amid heightening political strife.

The number of bounced cheques jumped by 15.06% last month, or 10,000 issues from the same period a year ago to around 76,600, according to the Bank of Thailand’s data.

The country’s economic growth has lost momentum since the second half of 2013 and a political standoff started in late October. Thailand’s GDP rose by a mere 0.6% in the fourth quarter last year, a sharp drop from a 2.7% year-on-year increase in the third quarter. The Thai economy grew 2.9% last year, down from 6.5% in 2012.

The disappointing economic reading and murky political situation prompted the National Economic and Social Development Board to slash its growth forecast this year to 3-4%, down from 4-5% projected earlier.

Banks recently said there were signs of SMEs’ late payments increasing and some small businesses shifted to seek personal loans after their credit line for SME loans bumped up against the limit. SMEs related to tourism and those operating near protest sites are at risk for a cash crunch. 

Central bank data reported Bangkok and vicinity had the highest number of bounced cheques at 40,800 issues, for a combined amount of 8.45 billion baht, followed by inter-provincial cheques at 23,900 issues for a combined value of 2.05 billion baht. 

There were 6.38 million total cheques processed in January, up 12.16% from the same period last year. However, the overall value of processed cheques fell by 3% or 98.4 billion baht over the same period a year before.

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