Farmers boo finance minister as talks on rice payments fail


BANGKOK, Feb 18 – A negotiation between caretaker Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong and farmers over payments from the rice pledging scheme failed, triggering boos and jeers from the planters, some of whom hurled bottles at him yesterday.

Mr Kittiratt, who is concurrently caretaker finance minister, was instantly whisked from the scene after resentful farmers angrily shouted and threw bottles at his direction. He was unhurt.

Angry farmers said they would rally at the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence again tomorrow to step up their demand for the overdue payments for their rice from the 2013/2014 crop, which have been delayed since September.

Mr Kittiratt told farmers who rallied at Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence that the government would urgently find loans to pay farmers at Bt4 billion a day so that the entire schedule of payments would be complete as soon as possible.

The farmers moved back to their original demonstration site in front of the Commerce Ministry and said they would return to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence tomorrow to demand their payments and oust the government.

Some farmers moved from the Commerce Ministry to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence yesterday in an attempt to meet with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to directly demand the overdue payments from her.

Their call for Ms Yingluck to appear before them was unsuccessful and Mr Kittiratt was assigned to meet the farmers.