Bia Kud Chum Community Currency System - Thailand
The Bia Kud Chum Community Currency System in Thailand, by Dr. Apichai Puntasen et al:
The introduction of CCS in Kud Chum in northeast Thailand (called Bia Kud Chum) in 1998 was motivated by economic and social considerations. The increasing trend towards market liberalization has affected adversely the community of Kud Chum, as their earnings from agriculture are determined by forces out side their control. As a consequence, the community have suffered from increasing indebtedness, increasing dependence on purchasing food, deterioration in the environment resulting from deforestation and use of chemical inputs, increased labour migration to the cities, drug problems and growing lack of communal spirit. Thus, the objectives of Bia Kud Chum currency system were: to increase self-reliance in the community, set up activities that increase diversity and sustainability, foster good social relations, reduce the outflow of money and resources from the community and save community members' money (baht).
After about a month of operation, however, the system faced a legal challenge from the Thai government. The Bank of Thailand and Thailand's Ministry of Finance have questioned the legality of the system, claiming that the system has violated the country's Currency Act and Banking Act. The issuance of Bia, which was the name of their currency used, was interpreted as illegal because the Thai government saw this as another currency, which could compete with the use of its national currency, the baht. The community in Kud Chum, on the other hand, claimed that the bia was never intended to compete with the baht nor did they try to elevate it to the status of the baht. This controversy started with the distortion of facts by a local newspaper that the community was trying to work for political separation of Kud Chum.
While the resolution of this controversy is still to be determined, the CCS in Kud Chum has been banned from using the bia for economic transactions. Despite the legal problem, the system has benefited the community of Kud Chum by achieving the economic and social objectives of the system. Local production and diversification were enhanced, as villagers were encouraged to produce goods for the local market. It strengthened social bonding and community interaction. It helped facilitate the circulation of resources within the community as villagers exchanged their production through the use of bia and direct barter and thus contributed to the reduction of the community's indebtedness." (http://www.appropriate-economics.org/asia/Asia_CCS_Report.pdf)
From the report: