Suthep says govt fails to secure loans for rice subsidy


BANGKOK, Jan 21 – The government was unsuccessful in getting loans from the Government Savings Bank (GSB) to subsidise the financially-ailing rice pledging scheme, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced.

Mr Suthep, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), calmed GSB depositors and other clients, saying that the bank released a statement, reassuring the public that it would definitely not extend loans to the government.

The GSB also allowed its employees to join the anti-government rallies, said Mr Suthep.

Farmers would be paid for their rice if the PDRC wins its fight against the government, adding the present administration has monopolised rice trading – an unscrupulous act which had forced rice traders to close down their businesses.

But the government could not release rice in its stockpiles which currently store about 17-18 million tonnes, he said.

Mr Suthep said farmers have begun anti-government actions similar to those of the PDRC by sealing off provincial halls to pressure the government to pay them for the rice they have sold under the rice subsidy programme.

Mr Suthep is scheduled to march from Lumpini rally site to nearby Trok Chan community today to urge people to come out on the streets to press the caretaker government to resign.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday expressed regret over the deaths and injuries of protesters and instructed police to speed up their hunt for culprits.

She asked protesters to cooperate with police and military personnel for the sake of their safety and said she has assigned security-related authorities to assess if it would be necessary to enforce the emergency decree to deal with the situation.

Ms Yingluck said the government would be willing to compensate those killed and injured in the violence but approval must come from the Election Commission.

She called on the public not to disrupt the advance polls on Sunday, insisting that the country must move on and that the general election is part of democracy.