February 7, 2014, at 1530hrs, at Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defense, Muangthong Thani, PM’s Office Minister and Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Varathep Ratanakorn gave an interview about the overdue payment to farmers under the rice pledging scheme that the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has intermittently been making payment to farmers all over the country with Ministry of Commerce’s earnings from rice sales. However, with the small amount of payment, it may not be sufficient for farmers who are being in financial trouble. Minister Varathep was adamant it was not the intention of the Government to delay the payment, but the problem was that earnings from rice release could not keep up with the payment schedule. Prior to the parliament dissolution, the Government’s resolution for such problem was to seek loans to pay the farmers up, and later pay back loans with earnings from the rice sales. However, after the House dissolution, the Government has been facing obstacles by way of threatening to press charges, blocking bank branches to prevent them to grant loans for the rice pledging scheme, to name a few.
The Government, therefore, would like to call for those who claim having sympathy for farmers to stop blocking and threatening banks and public officials, as well as expressing any negative comments which would only cause more problems. That way the payment process for the rice pledging scheme could be done faster. Minister Varathep added that the hardship of Ministry of Finance in seeking loan sources was due to current political situation and constitutional stipulations.
No matter which the Government in power, payment to farmers still need to be made. Minister Varathep reaffirmed that all farmers would receive full payment as indicated in their pledging certificate. Payment would be made based on schedules and queues.
Minister Varathep thanked the farmers for their tolerance and understanding towards the Government’s effort to seek financial sources for the overdue payment. BAAC has also measures to assist farmers whose debts are due by extending the deadline of debt payment for at least 6 months, as well as granting new loans for its customers.