Farmers end protests on payment vow

Ang Thong rice farmers agreed to temporarily call off their protest yesterday after the caretaker government promised to pay them delayed funds for pledged rice by Friday.

The agreement was passed on by provincial governor Pawin Chamniprasat to about 300 farmers after the group blocked the Asian Highway in Muang district.

Mr Pawin said the caretaker government is seeking a loan for the rice payments, since it was decided that such borrowing was unconstitutional.

The constitution prohibits a caretaker government from undertaking projects that will pass on a debt burden to the next government.

The government cannot reveal the name of the bank offering the loan, in case protesters stage a rally there, Mr Pawin said.

The farmers vowed to take to the streets again this Saturday if the Yingluck Shinawatra government cannot keep its promise.

Her government has failed to meet deadlines to pay farmers nationwide for pledged rice several times.

The rice-pledging scheme is a Pheu Thai Party policy where rice is bought at 40-50% above global market prices.

Payment delays infuriated farmers in many provinces, and last week they blocked roads in protest.

In Buri Ram, rice farmers from Lam Plai Mat and nearby districts rallied at a poll station in Constituency 4 yesterday to protest against Sunday's general election.

Instead of spending the 3.8-billion-baht election budget, the caretaker government should use the money to settle the debt owed to farmers, they said.

In Buri Ram alone, 5,000 farmers are waiting for more than 4 billion baht.

The farmers, who also blocked part of Highway No.226 yesterday, threatened to step up their protest if the government failed to solve the problem.

Rice farmers have also asked the Lawyers Council of Thailand to sue the government for the overdue payments, plus 7.5% interest.

Many farmers, including those in Kamphaeng Phet, have begun handing invoices to the council for use as evidence in the lawsuit.

The invoices are given to farmers after they pledge their paddy with the government.

The documents promise the government will pay money through the farmers' saving accounts at the state-backed bank.

However, the farmers have waited for the money for four months to no avail, which has forced many of them to turn to loan sharks, Kamphaeng Phet farmer network chairman Dokchik Naeohan said.

The government owes farmers a total of 130 billion baht.

Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong will release details this week of how the government will obtain its loan to pay farmers.

All farmers should receive outstanding funds within one month, Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said.

Buyers who did deals with the government to buy pledged rice stocks have recently paid a 7 billion baht installment, he added.

The amount of pledged paddy now stands at nearly 11 million tonnes, sources say.

Though the government claimed most of the rice stock has been sold, many critics question if the deals really took place, as the government is reluctant to release commercial details.

As soon as the caretaker government's loan is approved, they must speed up payments to the troubled farmers, Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 28/01/2014 at 12:10 AM
Mr Pawin said the caretaker government is seeking a loan for the rice payments, since it was decided that such borrowing was unconstitutional. The PTP keeps talking about the constitution when they want the election but ignores it otherwise.
Discussion 2 : 27/01/2014 at 07:44 PM
The best would be that future politic parties all ready announce to the bank that there will be no pay back because it was an illegal loan.. This would make the bank think 2 times before they start send out the money. Second the Thai people can tread the bank taht they will close there business with that bank. This must be enough for every bank to say... No thank you.
Discussion 3 : 27/01/2014 at 11:13 AM
"Mr Pawin said the caretaker government is seeking a loan for the rice payments, since it was decided that such borrowing was unconstitutional... Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong will release details this week of how the government will obtain its loan to pay farmers". They are again openly ignoring, and violating the Constitution Court ruling about loans in any form, and for any reason being completely illegal. This election law has been in place for a long time, and for this government to openly violate it, even after a court ruling, is grounds for the party being disbanded, and all those in the party being banned, including the PM.
Discussion 4 : 27/01/2014 at 09:44 AM
Probably the government will not have the money by friday
Discussion 5 : 27/01/2014 at 09:17 AM
Ff most of the rice has been sold as govt claims,then a loan time frame should not a problem ,often buyers will advance payments for discounted terms ..but then Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has a history for lying and admitted it and of course this will be confidential . If anyone bought this massive amount of rice it would be at a "dumped" price finally they can calculate the total massive loss to date.
Discussion 6 : 27/01/2014 at 04:38 AM
I guess if the farmers have not figured it out by now, they never will...

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