It's not rice 'pledging'
- Published: 4/10/2012 at 04:52 PM
- Online news:
The name itself, the rice pledging scheme, is misleading. It is not at all a pledging scheme because every grain of harvested paddy "pledged" by farmers is actually bought by the government.
There is no requirement that farmers redeem their rice. And what farmer would be foolish enough to take back his crop when he is already being paid well over the market price for his grain?
It should rightly be renamed the rice purchasing scheme. And because of this mega-generous scheme, the Thai government has ended up being probably the world’s biggest rice buyer and the biggest rice stockpiler, with about 16 million tonnes in warehouses and no serious buyers on the horizon.
With another 26 million tonnes of paddy from the main crop and second crop for the 2012-13 harvest season to be bought at an estimated cost of 405 billion baht to the taxpayer, one may wonder how and where the new harvest will be stored if the unsold stock is not cleared from the warehouses to make room for it.
Well, that is a headache the Commerce Ministry will have to deal with as the government has decided to continue the scheme for at least another year.
It seems to me that the biggest problem with this government and its supporters - which include the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, some academic groups and media commentators - is that they believe they are always right and can do no wrong.
Which explains why they always reject differing opinions or view opposing views with mistrust. Hence, their critics and outright opponents are often seen as having hidden agendas, with their actions being politically motivated.
And that explains why the move by a group of academics and students from the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) and Thammasat University were accused of being politically motivated and being a tool of the Democrats. One argument is: why did they take their case for an end to the rice pledging scheme to the Constitution Court, and why not directly to the government?
But what’s the point of taking the case directly to the government when it will be rejected outright anyway. Even the well-intended suggestion by the highly respected Virabongsa Ramangkura, Bank of Thailand chairman and chief of the government’s Strategic Formulation Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development, that the government rethink the scheme was politely brushed off.
Mr Virabongsa warned that the scheme could doom the government if it is not scrapped because the government cannot control the widespread corruption that has taken hold of it.
The refusal to accept differing opinions by the government and its supporters is also evident in the case pertaining to the final report about the April-May 2010 political violence by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission. They just cannot accept the fact that the UDD is not entirely the innocent victim and was partly to blame, not just the military which was faulted for excessive use of force against the red-shirt protesters.
For instance, the UDD has steadfastly rejected the existence of “men in black” and its failure to control the mob, even though the truth commission report attests to it.
With the rice purchasing scheme set to continue, it seems that the clear winners are the hungry vultures who are eternally hovering, looking for a big chunk of the cake – and then another big chunk from the next cake. If they are feeling kind, they leave a few leftovers for all the poor farmers to share, so they will show up in support of the scheme the next time someone dares to challenge it.
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
Position: Former Editor