Commerce Ministry asserts full payment to farmers for rice purchases


BANGKOK, Dec 14 – The government is financially capable of paying farmers who sold rice under the subsidy scheme but the delay in payment was due to financial discipline on managing the revolving fund, according to a deputy commerce minister.

Yanyong Phuangrach said the Commerce Ministry has to manage its spending within the allocated revolving fund of Bt500 billion.

The spending limit for the 2013/14 harvest is Bt270 billion, he said.

Mr Yanyong said the Budget Bureau has approved a Bt26.9 billion expense, plus an additional Bt20.176 billion from the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to purchase rice from farmers.

The Commerce Ministry has another amount of Bt12 billion from sales of packaged rice, contributing to a total Bt60 billion to be paid to farmers by the end of the year, he said.

He said the BAAC and Finance Ministry have created confusion in stating that they would have only Bt26 billion to pay farmers, insisting that the caretaker government is fully authorised to abide by payment obligations under the rice pledging scheme.

“I don’t understand why the BAAC expressed concern on budget constraints for the rice scheme. Any information to the public should not create fear among farmers about payment. The commerce minister has reaffirmed there is sufficient budget for rice purchases nationwide,” said Mr Yanyong.

The Commerce Ministry has so far paid Bt180 billion it earned from rice sales to the BAAC, he said.