Thailand ponders launch of Buddhist bank

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The Thai government is in the initial stages of drafting a bank after Buddhist principles as a special-purpose financial institution similar to the Islamic Bank of Thailand, Inside Investor can reveal.

Dr. Rak Vorrakitpokatorn, Senior Executive Vice President of the Islamic Bank of Thailand, told Inside Investor in an interview that “there is a market for such a bank considering the fact  that some of the larger Buddhist temples in Thailand sit on savings worth up to 10 billion baht [around $333 million].”

Sources in the Thai Finance ministry estimate that Buddhist monasteries and temples in Thailand have amassed a combined fortune of more than 200 billion baht ($6.6 billion), driven by large temples famed for merit-making and donations. The money is usually deposited in commercial banks and the state-owned Government Savings Bank.

Vorrakitpokatorn added that feasibility studies are going on for the creation of a Buddhist bank, but no launch date has been set yet.

A Buddhist bank in Thailand could initially be an outlet of the Government Savings Bank. The deposits will not be lent to any entities that contravene the rules of Buddhism, such as bars and massage parlours, or are otherwise against moral principles of Buddhism, such as tobacco, arms and gambling industries, or, depending on Buddhist teachings, are non-vegetarian.

A Buddhist bank could fund monks’ residences, monasteries and Buddhism schools. It could distribute a part of its profits to temple maintenance.

However, there have been critical voices in the Thai financial community that oppose the creation of a Buddhist bank. It would be hard for such as bank to manage non-performing loans as temples cannot  be held as collateral and seizing the possessions of a temple or an individual monk would be against societal norms, they argue.

Others say that a Buddhist bank would be an interesting model for social economics and it would be equally interesting to see how such an organisation is to be ran to reflect the principles of the Dharma, the “Path of Righteousness”.

Indeed some of the monasteries or even single monks seem to have accumulated considerable wealth. When Bua Yannasampanno, a hermit Buddhist monk, died in Thailand at the age of 97 in February 2011, he left behind 12 tonnes of gold (worth about $520 million) and $10 million in foreign currency which he donated to the Bank of Thailand.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Thai government is in the initial stages of drafting a bank after Buddhist principles as a special-purpose financial institution similar to the Islamic Bank of Thailand, Inside Investor can reveal.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Thai government is in the initial stages of drafting a bank after Buddhist principles as a special-purpose financial institution similar to the Islamic Bank of Thailand, Inside Investor can reveal.

Dr. Rak Vorrakitpokatorn, Senior Executive Vice President of the Islamic Bank of Thailand, told Inside Investor in an interview that “there is a market for such a bank considering the fact  that some of the larger Buddhist temples in Thailand sit on savings worth up to 10 billion baht [around $333 million].”

Sources in the Thai Finance ministry estimate that Buddhist monasteries and temples in Thailand have amassed a combined fortune of more than 200 billion baht ($6.6 billion), driven by large temples famed for merit-making and donations. The money is usually deposited in commercial banks and the state-owned Government Savings Bank.

Vorrakitpokatorn added that feasibility studies are going on for the creation of a Buddhist bank, but no launch date has been set yet.

A Buddhist bank in Thailand could initially be an outlet of the Government Savings Bank. The deposits will not be lent to any entities that contravene the rules of Buddhism, such as bars and massage parlours, or are otherwise against moral principles of Buddhism, such as tobacco, arms and gambling industries, or, depending on Buddhist teachings, are non-vegetarian.

A Buddhist bank could fund monks’ residences, monasteries and Buddhism schools. It could distribute a part of its profits to temple maintenance.

However, there have been critical voices in the Thai financial community that oppose the creation of a Buddhist bank. It would be hard for such as bank to manage non-performing loans as temples cannot  be held as collateral and seizing the possessions of a temple or an individual monk would be against societal norms, they argue.

Others say that a Buddhist bank would be an interesting model for social economics and it would be equally interesting to see how such an organisation is to be ran to reflect the principles of the Dharma, the “Path of Righteousness”.

Indeed some of the monasteries or even single monks seem to have accumulated considerable wealth. When Bua Yannasampanno, a hermit Buddhist monk, died in Thailand at the age of 97 in February 2011, he left behind 12 tonnes of gold (worth about $520 million) and $10 million in foreign currency which he donated to the Bank of Thailand.

 

 

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