Farmers rally at anti-graft agency seeking rice probe progress

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BANGKOK, Feb 7 – Farmers from various provinces rallied today at the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to see if the anti-graft agency has made any headway in its probe of the government’s rice pledging scheme.

The debt-ridden farmers announced they will continue their rallies until they receive the overdue payment from the caretaker government.

Thai Farmers Association leader Prasit Bunchouy led the farmers to NACC headquarters near the Commerce Ministry to ask whether the agency has taken concrete actions to scrutinise the scheme’s transparency.

The farmers marched peacefully, without blowing any whistles, to show that they were not anti-government protesters. They pledged to rally at the Commerce Ministry until they get a clear answer that they will get their overdue payment

Mr Prasith said he believed that more farmers from many provinces nationwide will join their protest.

Meanwhile, the leader of rice farmers in six western provinces, Rawee Rungruang, demanded that the caretaker government start making the long overdue payments, delayed for 4-5 months. He said the caretaker government should immediately resign if they fail to pay the farmers for the rice they have sold to state stockpiles and to give the new government a chance to solve the problem

Mr Rawee also said farmers suffering from overdue payments agreed to accept support from the anti-government movement, after protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced to lead his supporters marching across Bangkok to collect donations of Bt10 million for protesting farmers.  He said the money will be used for fostering the rallies, not for rice payments.

The farmer leader added that the farmers will continue protesting at the Commerce Ministry. A centre has been set up for farmers to register and submit their complaints which will be forwarded to agencies concerned to help solve the problems.