PM hits back at charges of bankruptcy resulting from rice scheme

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BANGKOK, Oct 15 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reasserted today that her government’s financial spending for the rice pledging scheme is strictly disciplined under the Bt400 billion budget earlier approved by the cabinet.

Referring to a Facebook comment page by former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala who said the government’s controversial rice scheme and other populist policies could have an extremely negative impact on Thailand’s economy and will possibly plunge the country into a Greek-like financial crisis.

The premier brushed aside Mr Thirachai’s criticism on the country’s huge public debt from the government’s policy, saying it is merely temporary debt which will be paid after revenue is generated from selling rice.

Meanwhile, Somsak Wongwatanasarn, deputy director of the Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO), inspected the cargo terminal at Don Mueang airport today to see if it is suitable for stocking rice from the pledging scheme in the 2012/2013 harvest.

He said an area covering 31,475 square metres can be converted as a temporary warehouse for one million sacks, or 100,000 tonnes, of rice, adding that the building is capable of taking five tonnes of rice per square metre while humidity is not a concern since the floor is elevated.

The building needs some repairs which will cost less than Bt10 million, he said.

“About 500 trucks will move in and out of the warehouse all day. We need to know if such an activity will affect traffic and service of the airport premises,” he said.

Mr Somsak said the final decision on using Don Mueang will be made after a thorough discussion among the commerce, interior and transport ministries, adding that a study on using hangars at airports supervised by the Royal Thai Air Force in Lopburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani is needed before a decision is made.