State bank affirms no loans being allocated for govt for rice scheme

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BANGKOK, Jan 20 — The president of Thailand’s state-owned  Government Savings Bank (GSB) affirmed today that there will be no loans to be allocated to the government for its rice pledging scheme amid mounting concerns on widespread farmer protests for delayed payment.

Protest leader Thaworn Senneam from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) said he had met with Government Saving’s Bank president Worawit Chailimpamontri after anti-government protesters at the Victory Monument protest site marched to the bank’s headquarters on Phaholyothin Road.

Protesters later cut electricity to the building after the discussion took place for only a while. Only PDRC leaders, guards and reporters were allowed inside the building.

A press conference was made after the discussion. Mr Worawit said the bank would not provide loans to the caretaker government for the rice pledging scheme, for such a project is not conducted in accordance with its chartered objectives.

Mr Worawit insisted that the bank’s liquidity is healthy and asked the public to rest assured of the bank’s status. The GSB has more than 20 million customer accounts and has about 5 million accounts taking loans from the bank, he noted.

Protest leader Thaworn, meanwhile, said that rice pledging is a populist policy that leads to corruption and vote buying. The government should therefore not force state enterprises such as the GSB and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-Operatives (BAAC) to provide loans for that purpose.