Prayuth: No state rice buying scheme

The ruling military council had no immediate plans to continue the costly state rice subsidy scheme of the former Yingluck government, Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday.

"Today, if you ask me, there will definitely be no rice pledging scheme, but whether we have one in the future or not is a different matter," Gen Prayuth, chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, told senior military and government officials at a meeting on the directions of the 2015 national budget.

The meeting took place at the Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Friday morning and Gen Prayuth had it televised live for the sake of transparency.

Gen Prayuth said the government would focus on the reduction of farmers' costs, the establishment of seed and fertiliser banks and the promotion of organic fertilisers and farm cooperatives.

A rice-pledging or rice price insurance scheme could be revived only if it was designed for all benefits to go only to rice growers, Gen Prayuth said.

The controversial state rice-buying scheme was one of the key policies that brought former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai Party to power in 2011. The scheme paid farmers about 40%above market price for their paddy, resulting in losses estimated at 500 billion baht.

Opponents said the scheme was plagued with corruption with unsold rice claimed to be rotting in warehouses. In-debt Farmers were still owed about  90 billion baht for harvests pledged in 2013 when the government was removed by the coup in May. They have since been paid.

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