Commerce Ministry on track despite cuts

Commerce Ministry on track despite cuts

Workers unload palm nuts at a processing plant in Krabi province. Income guarantee schemes have begun, with the money paid to rice and oil palm farmers. (Post Today photo)
Workers unload palm nuts at a processing plant in Krabi province. Income guarantee schemes have begun, with the money paid to rice and oil palm farmers. (Post Today photo)

The Commerce Ministry's priority plans for export stimulus, an income guarantee for farmers, cost-of-living supervision and trade talks will remain intact despite the ministry's allocated budget for fiscal 2020 being cut by 7.7% or 599 million baht to 9.812 billion baht.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit insisted yesterday that the lower budget is mainly because the ministry no longer has the financial burden of storing state rice stockpiles.

In previous years, the ministry had to shoulder the warehousing and maintenance costs for state rice stocks handled by the Public Warehouse Organisation, worth about 1.5 billion baht a year.

"The budget cut is unlikely to affect our mission next year because the lower amount stems mainly from no longer being responsible for rice stock warehousing and maintenance," Mr Jurin said after meeting with ministry officials to prepare for a House debate on the budget bill for fiscal 2020 scheduled for today and Friday.

Mr Jurin said the allocated budget for fiscal 2020 would go mainly to 10 government policies, including the income guarantee scheme for farmers; upgrading traditional retail shops to be smart modern trade; export and border trade acceleration; trade talks; the geographical indication scheme; new economy mobilisation; upgrading of trade facilitation; and promotion and development of service businesses.

The income guarantee schemes have already started, with money paid to rice and oil palm farmers. Payments are in the pipeline for rubber, scheduled to start early next month.

The government's income guarantee for farmers offers crop price guarantees for rice, rubber, tapioca, oil palm and corn, involving the vast majority of the nation's rural population.

Income and crop price guarantees are among the key proposals the Democrat Party campaigned on during the general election. The party is a coalition partner of the current government.

The Democrats earlier championed a programme of crop price insurance and guaranteed income for farmers when they led a coalition government during 2011-13.


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