The Energy Ministry has recently kicked off the official launch of the energy credit card project to cover motorcycle taxis, auto rickshaws and vans operating under the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA).
Operators with public-transport licence plates can now register for the energy credit cards and can use them to replace cash in paying fuel charge. The cards have a one-year validity period from August 15, and the cards will be given to qualified applicants on October 15, said Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon.
He added that the cards will be valid only to use within Greater Bangkok, and the programme extension to the other provinces will begin next year.
The scheme, under the operation of Krung Thai Bank (KTB) offers a credit line of THB 3,000 (US$95) with repayment period of 45 days.
The cardholders will enjoy a THB 2-per-kilogramme discount (US$0.06) on natural gas for vehicles, and a THB3-per-litre discount (US$0.09) on gasohol.
There are a lot of number of places accepting bill payment, such as 7-Eleven outlets, and the KTB branches. The minimum repayment rate is 10 per cent of the balance, but not less than THB 100 (US$).
Since the soft launch of the card two weeks ago, there have been more than 30,000 motorcycle taxi drivers applying for the scheme. The Energy Ministry expected the number of card registers to reach 100,000.
Chonlatanon said that the Ministry would consider raising the card’s credit line to THB 5,000 (US$159), if the cardholders maintained repayment discipline for six consecutive months.
This scheme is the re-launch of the first phase project launched in December last year for Natural Gas Vehicle (NGC)-fuelled public transport vehicles which include taxis, and BMTA’vans. Under this first phase scheme, there are more than 23,000 taxi drivers holding the cards with accumulated spending via the cards amounted to THB 38 million (US$1.21 million), with THB 8.3 million (US$263,450) outstanding.
The programme is expected to help public vehicle drivers reduce the vicious cycle of loan sharks, according to Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan.
Sithipan revealed that public vehicle drivers usually resort to loan sharks when they run out of cash.
“The situation would be worse if there were no credit card to help them, as interest rates charged by loan sharks are much higher than those of banks and could lead them to lose their jobs,” he added.
There are an estimation of 200,000 motorcycle taxi, 100,000 taxis and over 20,000 auto rickshaws and vans in Greater Bangkok, according to the Transport Ministry.
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