Business at Thai Govt Saving Bank back to normal, says central bank

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Business at Thailand's Government Savings Bank has returned to normal, the central bank said on Friday, after big withdrawals this week by customers unhappy with the bank's lending to a farm bank running a controversial rice-buying scheme.

The GSB said on Sunday it had lent 5 billion baht (S$194 million) to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), which manages the government's rice programme, but has run out of money to pay farmers.

On Tuesday the bank called back the loan and its president tendered his resignation after an unusually high 30 billion baht - 1.6 per cent of deposits - was withdrawn on Monday.

Some 10 billion was taken in deposits the same day.

Some savers were unwilling to see their money used to help the government while others were worried the loan could somehow destabilise the bank.

"On Friday morning, deposits and withdrawals at the Government Savings Bank have returned to normal levels," Bank of Thailand spokeswoman Roong Mallikamas told reporters.

The GSB and central bank did not give further figures after Monday but newspaper Krungthep Turakij reported withdrawals increased to 38 billion baht on Tuesday before slowing to 24 billion on Wednesday and 13.7 billion on Thursday.

Total withdrawals, therefore, came to 105.7 billion baht but the papers said about 44.8 billion was deposited from Monday to Thursday, with some depositors wanting to actively show support for the bank.

The GSB incident had not affected the overall financial market as repo and interbank rates had stayed close to the benchmark policy rate of 2.25 per cent this month, Roong said.

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