Thai opposition firm on ending rice pledging scheme

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Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party has repeated its call for the government to withdraw the controversial rice pledging scheme, insisting that mounting losses will definitely be at least Bt240-260 billion.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the cabinet’s decision to reduce the pledging price for paddy from Bt15,000 per tonne to Bt12,000 per tonne is not a solution to the problems of heavy losses and corruption.

The government can announce other measures such as guaranteeing farmers’ revenue to assist them, he said.

The former prime minister said the opposition’s insistence that the scheme will inflict heavy losses has become real and the government’s admitted losses of Bt136 billion were only from the 2011/2012 harvest season.

The figure excludes losses in the 2012/2013 annual crop, Bt35 billion in expenses and interest allocated to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and other relevant expenditure.

Total losses of Bt2.4-2.6 billion, earlier predicted by the Democrat party, are confirmed by state agencies, he said.