Better late than never. The Yingluck government is finally back-peddling on its most ambitious and, perhaps, most destructive populist policy, the rice pledging scheme -- which set the purchase price of paddy about 40% above market price and cost taxpayers 136 billion baht in losses, according to official estimates, in just the first year, with more to come.
At its meeting today, the cabinet was due to consider three options proposed by the National Rice Policy Committee to lower the paddy pledging price for ordinary white rice from the current 15,000 baht per tonne. The price of hom mali, or jasmine, fragrant rice would remain at 20,000 baht.
The first option was to slash the price of white rice by 15-20% from 15,000 baht to 12,000-13,500 baht per tonne for the 2013-2014 harvests. The other options were: to add a 25% margin to the cost of rice cultivation as estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and to add a 10% premium to the rice market price.