BANGKOK, 20 February 2014 Farmers scaled up their protest at the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday by not allowing ministry officials to enter.
Some of the farmers also traveled to the Defense Ministry Permanent Secretary’s Office and joined with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee in pressuring Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. The group then returned to its main rally site at the Commerce Ministry.
Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrat, meanwhile, indicated after a meeting with farmers’ representatives and rice mill owners that the meeting had come up with 3 measures to aid farmers who remained unpaid under the mortgage scheme. One of the proposals was to have members of the public who wished to help the farmers visit the Bank for Agriculture and Cooperatives (BAAC) to make deposits, so the extra liquidity can be used to pay the farmers. Another proposal was to establish a fund to collect donations from those wishing to help rice growers; it was also suggested that the government use the tax money collected from rice traders to contribute to the fund. In the future, such a fund might be developed into a bank dedicated solely to servicing rice growers. In the meantime, the Ministry of Commerce would work to sell no less than 1 million tons of rice each month.