Bt130 billion in loans needed to continue rice subsidy project


BANGKOK, Jan 9 – The caretaker government will seek permission from the Election Commission (EC) to borrow Bt130 billion to buy rice from farmers under the subsidy scheme, according to the caretaker commerce minister.

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn said the EC has allowed the ministry to continue the rice pledging plan, one of the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s major policies, but it will need to seek Bt130 billion loans to buy rice from farmers in the 2013/14 harvest season.

He said the Commerce Ministry will soon conduct an auction to sell 500,000 tonnes of rice on government-to-government basis in order to earn revenue to pay farmers.

The ministry has sold rice at a total value of Bt180 billion since 2011 while the new batch of 10 million tonnes of rice, which will be pledged with the government in the 2013/14 harvest season, will cost Bt150 billion.

The ministry has paid Bt30 billion to farmers and the remaining Bt77 billion will be given to them by January 25, he said.

Tanith Sriprateth, EC deputy secretary general, said the Commerce Ministry’s requested Bt130 billion in loans is a big issue which needs thorough study.

The EC must consider the law, particularly Section 181 of the Constitution, to ensure that the caretaker government’s spending will not become a burden to the next administration, he said.