B47bn in farmer handouts

B47bn in farmer handouts

The government has set a 70-billion-baht budget, of which 47 billion will be cash handouts, for rice farmers for the 2017/18 harvest year, says a senior official at the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).

Of the total budget, 23 billion baht will be for cheap loan rates, with 47 billion cash handed out for free to subsidise harvesting costs, said Somsak Kangteerawat, senior executive vice-president.

The assistance package is slated to seek the cabinet's approval by October.

He said the cash giveaways will be offered to around 3 million rice growers across the country who planted the main crop and will start harvesting from November.

All rice farmers will receive the cash handouts, but there will be a cap on the size of the farmland, said Mr Somsak. The limit for the handout could be 15 rai per farmer, with the aim of helping small farmers.

The handout is expected to be given to farmers from November, and it could take a few months to distribute it to all eligible farmers, he said.

Based on production costs averaging 8,000 baht per tonne, it is impossible for farmers to survive if they sell rice at 8,500-9,000 baht a tonne. The cash giveaways are to help them live more comfortably, said Mr Somsak.

He said the 23 billion baht in cheap loans will be offered to agricultural cooperatives to buy rice from farmers in order to slow the release of rice to the market, hopefully raising the market price.

In another development, the BAAC yesterday launched a savings lottery worth 60 billion baht, with a sales price of 100 baht per ticket.

Those who purchase the three-year maturity savings lottery tickets are entitled to win 1.26 million in prizes every month, with a grand prize of 10 million baht. They will also receive interest of 0.25% per ticket, or 75 satang. Those who spend at least 1 million baht in the savings lottery will see their return increase to around 1.44% as they have a chance to win the three- and four-digit prizes.

Recently, the BAAC sold out another lot of its savings lottery worth 30 billion baht in 12 days.

He said the BAAC aims for 50 million baht in new deposits for its financial year ending March 31, 2018, up 4% year-on-year, and its outstanding deposits rose by 10 billion for the first six months. Non-performing loans remained static this year and the bank targets them making up no more than 4% of loans outstanding this year.

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