Govt faces 'grilling' on ASF

Govt faces 'grilling' on ASF

Pheu Thai vows to expose 'cover-up'

Pork cuts are shown with price tags at Simummuang wet market in Pathum Thani province. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Pork cuts are shown with price tags at Simummuang wet market in Pathum Thani province. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Pheu Thai Party has vowed to grill the government over its alleged cover-up of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the country and said it will also ask the anti-graft agency to investigate.

In a statement, the main opposition party raised suspicion that the government knew there was an ASF outbreak in the country -- suspected to have started in 2020 -- but made efforts to conceal this from the public.

Pheu Thai based its accusation on the huge numbers of dead pigs in the country, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives' request for over 500 million baht to subsidise the culling of pigs and disinfecting farms, as well as to compensate pig farmers.

The government not only failed to tell the public the truth, but also failed to take action to address the issue, the party claimed. The damages sustained by pig farmers and consumers, who are bearing the brunt of soaring pork prices, are a result of mismanagement by the government, the party said.

It called on the government to introduce relief measures for pig farmers to help them sustain their operations and bring down pork prices to reduce the cost of living for the general public.

Stressing that someone must be held responsible, Pheu Thai said it would raise the issue of the alleged cover-up in the House. It also said it would submit evidence to the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the matter.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Chantararuangthong said the opposition would use the planned general debate to point out flaws in the government's management of the economy and budget.

He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha could have cushioned the economic impact of an ASF outbreak had he paid heed to the opposition's suggestions.

Mr Prasert said the cash handout schemes finally implemented in a bid to turn the economic situation around indicated that the government was at its wit's end.

Meanwhile, the House committee on agriculture will summons Sorawit Thanito, director-general of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), to clarify the alleged cover-up next week.

Narit Khamnurak, a Democrat Party MP for Phatthalung and chief adviser to the committee, said the DLD would also be questioned on how it plans to resolve the issue following confirmation of ASF at a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Pathom.

"The panel will hold an online meeting next week to discuss the ASF outbreak, which has affected people extensively from farmers to consumers," he said.

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