Finance Ministry seeking new funding source for rice pledging scheme

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The Finance Ministry is speeding up its search for a new source of loans to pay farmers participating in the rice pledging scheme by Jan 15.

A meeting of the public debt policy and management committee was held last week, chaired by Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister, to consider new loan sources to pay farmers under the pledging scheme during the 2013/2014 harvest season.

The money must be distributed to farmers by Jan 15 and managed to be within the ceiling.

Kittiratt affirmed that the loan budget is now still within the ceiling of Bt500 billion based on the assumption that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) does not decrease, which will otherwise affect the debt ratio.

Meanwhile, Anusorn Thammajai, a committee member, said the loan budget will be within Bt500 billion, for the Election Commission (EC) stated that such project could continue as it was an existing project, not a new one. Therefore, the committee will have to speed up finding a new source of loans to pay farmers.

Anusorn admitted that ongoing political problems have affected the Thai economy in various dimensions and could affect the Public Debt Management Office’s projection on the country’s economy in the next 4-5 years.

He said the economy this year could grow less than 3 percent, which will result in a higher ratio of public debt to GDP and thus affect finding loan sources to fund mega investment projects as well as economic opportunity losses.