Farmers welcome Prayuth’s rice policy
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Farmers welcome Prayuth’s rice policy

The head of the Thai Agriculturists Association hails the coup maker’s decision on quick payment for farmers’ long-pledged rice and also seeks further support for rice prices.

Wichian Phuanglamjiak, president of the Thai Agriculturists Association, said he agreed with coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s policy to speed up overdue payment for the rice that Thai farmers had pledged with the government.

Gen Prayuth, as chairman of the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC), plans to use a national budget to pay for the rice that farmers pledged for months without receiving money from the government. Many farmers committed suicide due to financial tension while waiting desperately for the Yingluck Shinawatra government to pay them under its loss-ridden and corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme.

Mr Wichian also asked the NPOMC to shore up rice prices for farmers. He said that rice prices plunged to 4,500-6,000 baht per tonne, on par with their costs.

Mr Wichian also said farmers risked losses especially in the next 3-4 months when rice yields would peak for the year and prices could further fall.

Rangsan Sriworasart, permanent secretary for finance and acting finance minister, said with the NPOMC fully in control, financial institutions were now confident to lend to the Finance Ministry to repay the farmers.

He said the ministry through the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) would borrow for the purpose as the government owed about 80 billion baht to the farmers who participated in the rice-pledging scheme.

PDMO director Chularat Suteethorn said the state could first use proceeds from previous rice sales and a farmer aid fund of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to partly pay for the pledged rice and her office would decide how much would be borrowed.

She said despite the control by the NPOMC, the borrowing cost of the Thai government had not risen because domestic liquidity exceeded 1 trillion baht and interest rates were low.

Bunthak Wangcharoen, president of the Thai Bankers’ Association, said if the borrowing had no legal issues, all commercial banks would be ready to lend.

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