Farmers hail govt promise to pay overdue debts within month

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BANGKOK, Feb 17 – Farmers have welcomed the government’s move to pay them Bt4 billion daily, starting today until the Bt130 billion in overdue payments are paid off within a month.

Vichien Puanglamchiak, president of the Thai Farmers Association, yesterday reacted positively to the statement by caretaker Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan.

“This is the best news for farmers. We believe the government will keep its promise,” he said.

Mr Vichien said the receipts given to farmers after their delivered rice to millers under the subsidy scheme would be indefinitely valid to cash with the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

A rice receipt normally expires in four and a half months but farmers submitted their receipts much earlier in exchange for cash, he said.

The opposition Democrat Party called on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to directly announce to farmers on payment details, including timeframe, amount of money and the location of the payment.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the party economic team would closely monitor the government’s payment procedure to ensure that farmers receive their money.

“If the government is unable to pay farmers, it should return the rice to farmers so they could sell it (themselves). Farmers have been paying interest for their borrowings for the past 7-8 months,” he said.