Farmers blame graft for rice shambles

Corruption is a major cause cited by farmers when asked what they think has left the government unable to pay for their pledged rice, according to a poll conducted by the National Institution of Development Administration (Nida).

 Nida Poll interviewed 1,250 rice farmers of various levels of education in all regions on Feb 10-11, during the ongoing protests by growers demanding the government pay for rice harvests they delivered and pledged months ago.

Asked what they think has caused the government to be unable to pay the debt, 31.13% of the respondents pointed to corruption in the rice-pledging process; 18.42% to the government's losses incurred from the rice trade; 18.42% to the government's inability to sell the rice, causing lack of liquidity; 15.03% blamed it on the government being in a caretaking position, making it unable to acquire loans from financial institutions; 12.89% pointed to other causes including the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protests; and 4.16% has no comment.

To the question who should be held responsible, 35.92% of the respondents pointed to the prime minister, 32.33% to the cabinet, 16.58% to the commerce minister, 9.85% to the PDRC, and 3.50% to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), while the rest had no comment.

Asked what they think the government should do, 36.72% said it should quickly sell off the pledged rice, 28.88% suggested it seek loans to get money to pay the farmers, 22.64% said it should resign to allow a new administration to solve the problem, 3.60% suggested it return the pledged rice to the farmers, 4.08% said it should solve the problem of protesters obstructing its work, and 4.08% gave no comment.

When asked to comment on the rice-pledging scheme, 43.04% said it should be scrapped, 34.40% said it should continue but the price of pledged rice should be in line with the world market prices, 18.24% said it should continue as it is now, 1.12% said it should continue but in the form of price insurance, and 3.20% had no comment.

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