PHUKET TOWN: The economic crisis fueled an increase in the number of loans against valuables at the Phuket Municipal Pawn Shop last year, according to Manager Phuwadon Chin-nupathum The number of customers seeking loans increased by nearly 2,000 in 1998, compared with 1997, while the total amount of money lent rose from 170,292,530 baht in 1997 to 190,659,300 baht last year. The pawn shop, which is wholly owned by Phuket municipality, increased its profit by more than 1.5 million baht in 1998 compared with the previous year. The most frequently pawned item was jewelry, which secured about 85 per cent of total loans. Television sets, stereos and household appliances were also high on the list. Mr Phuwadon told the Gazette that during the peak tourist season, November through February, the redemption of goods, i.e., repayment of loans, accelerates rapidly from monthly norms throughout the rest of the year.
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