The Village Fund
The first was the Village and Urban Revolving Fund. To many, Dr. Thaksin's
election campaign pledge to provide 1 million baht ($24,000) to each of Thailand's
70,000 villages was a populist handout. It's actually a revolving loan program.
The program is unique in that it specifically targets projects aimed at stimulating
the rural economy. Village leaders and bankers will identify projects and
provide loans at 4% interest (commercial farm loans cost 5%-8%) to be guaranteed
by community groups. The intent of the $1.6 billion Fund is to enable farmers
to increase productivity, and value added, through developing new activities
such as processing and packaging. The Fund can also be drawn on by individuals,
households or groups to start their own small or micro-enterprises.