More than 3,900 Thai rice farmers in four provinces expected to receive US$22.2M in overdue payments under rice-pledging program

BANGKOK , February 11, 2014 () – Thai farmers in four provinces are expected to receive 712 million Baht (22.2 million U.S. dollars) overdue payment for their rice under the rice-pledging scheme.

Some 3,921 farmers in Phetchabun, Uthai Thani, Ayutthaya and Prachin Buri provinces will be paid for their 40,000 tons of rice, said Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, Thai caretaker commerce minister after a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Farmers who sold rice to the government in October have all received their money, and 61 percent of those who joined the scheme in November have been also paid. Meanwhile, most farmers who sold their rice in December and January have not been paid yet, Niwatthamrong was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday pledged to pay farmers for their rice, adding that her government is able to seek loans under the current fiscal status, and blaming the overdue payments on legal limitations.

Caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong said several commercial banks have expressed their interest in providing loans to pay farmers.

The World Bank's office in Bangkok on Tuesday showed their concern over the delays in paying 120 billion Baht (3.7 billion U. S. dollars) for farmers in the rice-pledging scheme, which accounts for 1 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

The overdue payment has resulted in a spending and consumption slowdown in Thai agricultural sector, said Kirida Phaophichit, a senior WB economist.

Hundreds of Thai farmers have been camping outside the Commerce Ministry to urge for their rice payments.

(c) 2014 Xinhua News Agency

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