Cabinet limits rice pledge price ceiling at Bt500 billion

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KAMPHAENG PHET, June 10 – The cabinet today ordered  the Commerce Ministry to strictly abide by the allocated revolving fund of Bt500 billion to buy paddy from farmers under the rice pledging scheme.

The instruction came on the heels of a report by the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) which said the Bt500 billion revolving fund was exhausting.

The BAAC set aside Bt90 billion loans while Bt410 billion was borrowed from financial institutes. However, there was times when the BAAC had to grant loans above the Bt90 billion ceiling as the Commerce Ministry was waiting to release rice from its stockpiles.

A government spokesman said the rice buying for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 crops, or as of Dec 31 this year, must not exceed the Bt500 billion ceiling as stipulated by the government.

The Democrat Party spokesman said the rice pledging scheme is ushering Thailand towards disaster, affirming that the opposition’s figures on the government’s massive losses were correct and referable.

He said the Commerce Ministry could not release 16 million tonnes of rice from its stockpiles and could not find enough money to buy paddy from the second harvest.

The BAAC has stopped paying money to farmers while the Commerce Ministry is trying to seek the cabinet’s approval for the BAAC to allocate additional fund for the purchase, the party spokesman said.

He called on the government to urgently call off the rice pledging scheme.