Caretaker govt persists in trying to borrow to pay farmers

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BANGKOK, Jan 23 – The caretaker government will proceed with attempting to secure loans to pay farmers who have sold rice to the state under the rice pledging programme, according to caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach.

He said caretaker Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong will publicly explain the borrowing guidelines today.

The Election Commission (EC) earlier announced that it would depend on the government’s judgement on whether it should borrow to pay a total of Bt130 billion to farmers who have delivered rice from the 2013/2014 crop.

Mr Yanyong said the government has sought opinions on the borrowing from the Finance Ministry, Budget Bureau, National Economic and Social Development Board and the Attorney General.

Mr Kittiratt will explain details of the loans after receiving clarifications from the agencies concerned, he said.

The Commerce Ministry will speed up distributing rice to buyers after having signed several agreements including government-to-government deals and auction the rice in the agricultural futures exchange of Thailand, he said.

It has projected to sell Bt6-7 billion of rice each month, or earn over Bt30 billion in the next six months, Mr Yanyong said and urged the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to  grant loans to the government from its liquidity reserve.

Extending loans to the government is equivalent to giving financial assistance to farmers who are BAAC clients and the cooperatives bank itself has made more than Bt10 billion profit from the rice pledging scheme, he said.

Chularat Suteethorn, director general of the Public Debt Management Office, said officials were working on details to borrow Bt130 billion, earlier approved by the Cabinet, for payment in the rice subsidy programme.