Finance Ministry in hot seat as farmers press for payments


BANGKOK, Feb 4 – The Finance Ministry has admitted difficulties in finding financial sources for overdue payments to farmers whose road blockade protests have spread from the South to the North.

Rungson Sriworasat, permanent secretary for finance, said the Finance Ministry was trying to borrow from commercial banks to pay farmers who have sold their rice from the latest harvest under the rice pledging scheme.

Commercial banks were concerned that extending loans for the purpose would trigger clients to withdraw their savings in light of pressure by anti-government protesters, he said.

He said the Commerce Ministry was told to urgently sell rice in its stock despite possible loss in order to earn money to pay farmers.

Farmers have blockaded Rama II Road at Km 84-84 in Ratchaburi province since Saturday, paralysing traffic between the central region and the southern provinces.

In the northern province of Pichit, farmers closed one side of Highway 117 which links Phitsanulok and Nakhon Sawan to demand payment for rice they have delivered from the 2013/2014 crop.

The Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives at Bung Narang branch informed farmers that the first batch of payments would be made today and tomorrow.