Govt to ask commercial banks again for loans to pay farmers


BANGKOK, Feb 12 – The government will renegotiate with commercial banks for loans to pay farmers who sold rice under the state subsidy scheme, according to caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan.

Mr Niwatthamrong, who is also caretaker commerce minister, made the promise to farmers during his second round of meeting with them yesterday.

He said the caretaker Cabinet yesterday approved Bt712 million budget for overdue payments to farmers who have waited for the money since September, while the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) would take care of those who were due to get their payments in October.

The government should come up with assistance measures for farmers this week during which talks with commercial banks would be held again for possible borrowing.

The Internal Trade Department was instructed to facilitate farmers who wanted to inspect warehouses to ensure that rice has remained in stockpiles, and not disappeared as they were told, he said.

Varathep Ratanakorn, caretaker Minister to the PM’s Office, said it was impossible that payments were overdue for as much as 6-8 months, adding that provincial agriculture officials were instructed to work closely with BAAC in explaining the government’s attempt to help farmers.

Nattawut Saikua, caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister, said less than 200 of the total 43,569 sacks of rice were damaged in a fire at Lam Narai warehouse in Lop Buri’s Chai Badan district yesterday.

The fire could possibly spread from a nearby sugarcane field but police are investigating the cause of the fire, he said, rejecting an allegation that the government was behind the incident to avoid farmers’ inspection.