Cabinet approves allotment from emergency fund to aid rice pledging scheme

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BANGKOK, 25 February 2014  The Cabinet has given the green light to the allocation of 20 billion baht from the annual emergency budget in an effort to rescue the cash-strapped rice pledging program and pay farmers for their pledged rice. 

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn, the Cabinet today made a resolution to allow the government to acquire an amount of 20 billion baht from the emergency fund of the 2014 budget. The amount is to be used in the reimbursement of rice farmers whose crops were entered into the rice mortgage scheme earlier.

Mr Niwatthamrong noted, however, that the Cabinet resolution would need approval from the Election Commission. Once approved, he said the amount would be allocated to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) immediately in order to proceed with the payment to farmers without further delay.

The Deputy Prime Minister also assured that when the government receives money from sales of its stockpiled rice, coupled with loans currently being sought by the Finance Ministry, the 20 billion baht would be promptly repaid to the Bureau of the Budget.

In the meantime, Mr Niwatthamrong reported that he had been contacted by the Chinese Ambassador to Thailand regarding China’s wish to buy one million tons of Thai rice annually. He said a government-to-government (G2G) contract was expected to be drawn up within the next 2-3 weeks.