Govt approves Bt20 billion to pay farmers

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BANGKOK, Mar 18 – Caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said today that he has approved withdrawal of Bt20 billion from the state central fund for overdue payment to farmers from the rice pledging scheme.

As a caretaker government, it is subject to repay the money within the month of May, or it can face legal action.

Mr Kittiratt, concurrently caretaker deputy prime minister, said the money will be transferred to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to pay farmers for their rice already in the 2013/2014 crop.

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, caretaker deputy prime minister and commerce minister, gave assurances that the ministry will return the money to the central fund by May 31.

The Election Commission on March 4 approved the government’s plan to use Bt20 billion from the central fund to pay farmers who joined the rice-pledging scheme but required the government to refund the central budget with the entire Bt20 billion through rice sales by May 31

Mr Niwatthamrong said the Commerce Ministry currently receives Bt8-9 billion a month from rice sales and the next batch of rice in the state stockpiles will be auctioned in the Agriculture Futures Exchange of Thailand tomorrow.