Market analysts believe crude oil is still trending upwards and could even hit US$200 (Bt6,380) a barrel next year.
Some economists warn that the economy will come under threat even if oil reaches just $130, as many producers and consumers would not be able to cope with the escalating costs of production and living.
Small logistics and transportation services face rapidly rising costs. And it isn't easy to pass the extra cost on to consumers, due both to government restrictions and weakening consumer purchasing power.
Pongsak Chewcharat, president of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand, said on the sidelines of the current Money Expo that his bank had launched hire-purchase loans for transportation and logistics businesses that plan to buy new vehicles propelled by natural gas for vehicles (NGV).
These include buses, mini buses, vans, pickup trucks or passenger cars for the car-rental business.
Loans can go up to Bt100 million and the interest rate will vary from 4 per cent to 4.25-5 per cent depending on the borrower's creditworthiness.
The state-owned bank reckons that it offers the best pricing. Some other banks charge 5-7 per cent and their repayment period is only three to four years, Pongsak said.
The SME Bank loans will cover up to 90 per cent of the vehicle's price and offer a seven-year term. Borrowers must not be older than 60 years on the day they complete the loan repayment.
Borrowers have to bring in a co-signer and pledge the vehicle with the bank. Loan approval will take about one month. Pongsak set the target of Bt1 billion hire-purchase loans under this programme.
This scheme does not apply to engine retrofits for used vehicles.
Pongsak believes that SMEs can save costs if they use new NGV vehicles and then can lower service costs for consumers since NGV is much cheaper than gasoline and diesel. NGV is also environmentally friendly compared with gasoline or diesel, he added.
However, one disadvantage of NGV is the limited number of filling stations. PTT promises to open more gas stations providing NGV in a few months. However, it is expected to be a few years before NGV refilling becomes convenient.