It is an open fact to rice exporters, fair-minded bankers, academics, the World Bank and credit rating agencies such as Moody's Investor Services that the populist rice-pledging scheme is flawed and costly to the state coffers and the economy.
The only party which appears blind to this open fact is the government, sadly enough.
Well-intended warnings, recommendations and advice have been offered in the hope the government will see the truth and, at least, amend the scheme _ if not scrap it outright.
Regrettably though, all of them have been brushed aside by the government apparently for the simple reason that they came from people who are deemed opposed to the government and, therefore, not worthy of consideration.
The truth cannot be hidden forever, however. The rice-pledging scheme is slowly and steadily sucking dry the coffers of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), the major creditor of the scheme. It is also bleeding the economy dry.
The BAAC is almost broke and desperate for new funding to meet the 270-billion-baht budget needed to continue the scheme for the 2013-14 harvest which started on Oct 1.
The Finance Ministry has made it known it is reluctant to act as a guarantor of the BAAC to seek fresh loans because the bank has already exceeded the 500-billion-baht budget to support the scheme.
Also, the Commerce Ministry has been slow in repaying the bank because it cannot sell the rice fast enough. About 120 billion baht has been returned to the bank and the ministry has promised to add another 220 billion baht by the end of this year.
Latest reports say the BAAC may have to resort to the Public Debt Management Office for help as there is an unused loan guarantee amounting to 250 billion baht which can keep it afloat financially so the rice-pledging scheme can go ahead for another year.
But the real problem which also is the main concern of former deputy prime minister Pridiyathorn Devakula and two rice experts, Ammar Siamwalla and Nipon Poapongsakorn of the Thailand Development Research Institute, is the massive corruption in the scheme and the suspicion that its main beneficiaries are not the farmers but outsiders.
The three men took part in a seminar on Tuesday to voice their concerns over the flaws in the scheme and to urge the government to scrap it.
They urged the government to replace it with a more effective means to help farmers and, at the same time, save money.
The idea put forward by MR Pridiyathorn that the government set a ceiling of compensation to be paid to each farm household, and pay it directly to them, deserves to be explored further by the government. This method will still benefit farmers and at the same time weed out the non-farmers who have benefited immensely from the programme.
The government, the Finance Ministry in particular, may challenge MR Pridiyathorn's estimate that the scheme has lost 425 billion baht in the past two years.
As a matter of fact, no one knows for sure the amount of the actual loss _ not even the ministry.
But the undeniable fact is the scheme is rife with corruption and many non-farmers have amassed most of the benefits that should have gone to farmers.
So if the government really wants to help farmers, it should open its eyes and ears to the advice of those who think the scheme should be reviewed.