No reversal of rice pledging scheme

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BANGKOK, Sept 20 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reaffirmed today that the government’s widely-criticised rice pledging scheme will carry on with its objective to help Thai farmers.

She was apparently responding to a recent call by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) to terminate the scheme since “the government is competing with the private sector in buying rice from farmers.”

Ms Yingluck said the programme is meant to help farmers with no intention of competing with the private sector.

“It’s a non-profit scheme that must go on. It’s in the policy statement as announced in parliament,” she said.

The premier said the government is willing to listen to feedback to guide improvements and assessing its performance, adding that Deputy Commerce Minister Bunsong Teriyapirom has been assigned to improve it.

Rice pledging is vital as the government is bound to look after farmers while the private sector is not barred from directly buying rice directly from the farmers, she said.

The private sector has complained that the government’s pledging price is too high and deters farmers from selling rice to them.

Ms Yingluck said the new mechanism will take some time before the price is neutralised, admitting that the government’s policy may not please every quarter.

The commerce ministry will be instructed to work in parallel to assist the private sector.

Snubbing NIDA, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said NIDA is an untrustworthy organisation and acts like an off-parliament opposition.

He said that he is not worried if NIDA protests the rice pledging scheme with the Constitution Court.

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