Kittiratt seeks EC approval for loan

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong on Tuesday morning put the government's case before the Election Commission (EC), explaining the need for an additional loan to pay farmers owed money under the rice pledging scheme.

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The EC invited Mr Kittiratt to testify after the caretaker government, which has limited financial authority, sought approval  to acquire a loan from financial institutions to fund the payments to farmers.

The meeting, chaired by EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen, was held at Thammasat University's Rangsit campus.

Mr Kittiratt said it is necessary for the Finance Ministry to get a loan to pay for farmers who pledged their rice with the government in September and were issued a pledge invoice in October last year.

He insisted that the money being sought was not for a new round of the rice-pledging programme but for the 2013-14 main crop season, which runs from October to the end of February this year.

An EC approval was needed as required by Section 181 of the constitution, which bans a caretaker government from making any decisions which could impose financial burdens on the next government.

Mr Kittiratt affirmed that this would not create a new debt, but was part of the old sum of debt approved by the cabinet in September last year.

The government had so far paid 50 billion baht to farmers and needed more money for farmers who had not yet been paid, he said.

Mr Kittiratt was to report the outcome of his meeting with the EC to the cabinet meeting to be held at the Royal Thai Air Force headquarters in the afternoon.

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