Ex-Thai PM blasts junta for copying rice subsidy plan

Claims junta's new rice plan little different than her government's - for which she was charged $997 million

Ex-Thai PM blasts junta for copying rice subsidy plan

World Bulletin / News Desk

Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra blasted Thailand's ruling junta on Friday for its new rice subsidy plan, claiming it is little different than that enacted by her government.

Shinawatra has been ordered to pay 35 billion-baht ($997 million) in damages for losses caused by the ambitious but financially disastrous plan by the Pheu Thai Party government, which was overthrown in May 2014 coup.

On Friday, Shinawatra -- in court to listen to testimony about her government's plan, which the junta claims was rife with corruption -- turned on her accuser.

"The subsidy plan of this government was no different from my government's rice pledging scheme," she told reporters outside the Bangkok courtroom.

With many impoverished Thai rice farmers about to harvest their paddy, the market has dropped to $143 per ton -- the lowest in decades -- as the agricultural sector feels the effects of low global demand.

In the last few days, online campaigns have been organized to help farmers directly sell their crop to consumers, to cut the costs of millers and middlemen.

A Thai university specializing in agricultural studies has even gone as far as to offer free space to farmers for them to sell their crops on the campus.

“With public sympathy decidedly with despairing rice farmers at the moment, it’s the subsidy-bashing junta that has found itself in a tight spot,” a contributing editor at the Bangkok Post, Atiya Achakulwisut, wrote in an editorial this week

“By giving subsidies a bad name and turning the policy into a political weapon against Ms Yingluck, the military regime has cornered itself.”

Following her court appearance Friday, Shinawatra took to the Internet to ask the public to help buy rice directly from farmers.

On her Facebook page, she talked of a recent visit to northeastern Thailand.

“Rice farmers reported me their dire situation because of the falling prices of the rice,” she wrote.

“They asked me to buy rice from them in order to help them. I bought some because I wanted to help, but it is not going to solve the problem."

She concluded by calling people to gather Saturday in the parking lot of a Bangkok mall to buy rice directly from farmers.

Thailand's military government said Tuesday it would start a subsidy plan for rice farmers which offers them two choices.

Either they get financial help to store their crop until the market price goes up, or they sell their crop immediately to the government at market price and then get some financial support.

 

 

Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2016, 16:43
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