PM firm on proceeding with rice pledging scheme

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BANGKOK, Oct 18 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted today that Thailand’s government-to-government rice deals are legitimate and that the rice pledging scheme will proceed despite a Senate move to temporarily suspend the programme.

She said the government had earlier consulted the Council of State which ruled that the deals could go ahead.

The premier added that farmers will continue to sell rice to the government under the scheme at Bt15,000 per tonne–a price which she described as fair. The Thailand Development and Research Institute earlier argued that the pledging price should not be higher than Bt13,000 per tonne.

She said the scheme will not help farmers if the pledging price is too low.

A group of 68 senators has petitioned the Constitution Court, seeking an injunction to suspend the G-to-G rice deals, which have an impact on Thai people nationwide, unless the government gets approval from parliament as stipulated in Section 190 of the constitution.

The government-sponsored rice pledging scheme and G-to-G rice deals, a consequence of excessive rice stockpiles, have been heavily criticised by former cabinet members, academics, politicians and the public.

Some blamed the government for pushing ahead with the superfluous spending at taxpayer expense which they said will eventually lead the nation to bankruptcy. Some said the pledging scheme lacks transparency and leads to widespread corruption.

The government-to-government rice agreements received no less criticism as the Commerce Ministry, in charge of the maneuvering has refused to disclose details of the deals, claiming that they are confidential.

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