Govt retracts Bt712 million request for rice payments


BANGKOK, Feb 20 – The caretaker government has withdrawn its letter to the Election Commission (EC) seeking Bt712 million from the central fund to pay farmers under the rice pledging scheme, according to an EC member.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, EC member for election administration, said the caretaker government reasoned that the request lacked sufficient detail, and promised to return the request to the EC for approval.

The Bt712 million allocation, if approved, is only a small portion of the total Bt130 billion the government has yet to pay farmers nationwide for the rice they have delivered from the 2013/2014 crop.

The EC resolved yesterday to go ahead with elections in 28 pending constituencies in eight southern provinces and announced that it would recruit officials to be assigned to polling booths using the EMS postal service.

The Election Law requires nine officials to facilitate balloting at each polling station.

Elections are set for March 2 in five provinces – Phetchaburi, Rayong, Phetchabun, Samut Songkram and Samut Sakhon.

New elections in 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces are scheduled for April 27 while advance elections are a week earlier, or on April 20.

Printing and delivering ballots will be conducted confidentially to avoid possible disruption, Mr Somchai said, adding that administrative, police and military personnel will be asked to provide security at polling booths on the election day.

He said the announcement of 125 party-list MPs would not be made unless elections in 375 constituencies nationwide are complete.