The Nation



Bt22 bn rice-scheme payments for Dec face delay

About Bt22 billion remains to be paid under the rice-pledging scheme for this month only, but if there is no new money from rice sales or borrowings coming in, payment may be delayed, according to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

"We will gradually make payments from the remaining funds we have," Luck Wajananawat, president of the BAAC, said yesterday.

"Recently, the Commerce Ministry repaid Bt162 billion and the Budget Bureau allowed the bank to disburse Bt50 billion for payments. We have paid about Bt170 billion to farmers and there remains about Bt20 billion for more payment in December," he said.

As of Tuesday, the bank had paid farmers about Bt17 billion or Bt2 billion per week on expectation that it would have enough funds for payment by the end of this month.

The payments are for the 2013-14 harvest.

This month, the Commerce Ministry will repay about Bt13 billion to the bank. About Bt7.1 billion of that will come from the budget for the blue-bag rice project and Bt6 billion from rice sales. With this injection plus its existing funds, the bank will have about Bt22 billion available for rice-pledging payments.

Rice sales and borrowings from the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) were the BAAC's sources of money for payment. There remains Bt45 billion waiting for PDMO borrowings, while the ministry has insisted that rice sales will continue until September of next year and Bt95 billion in proceeds would go to the BAAC.

The Cabinet has not approved BAAC's special provision and extension of its Bt500-billion borrowing limit.

If the remaining funds for the project are used up with no new money coming in, farmers can borrow about Bt10 billion from the bank and use that for their new crop.

Farmers have submitted rice-pledging documents for almost six million tonnes worth Bt90 billion. About 11 million tonnes of in-season rice are expected to be included in the rice pledging scheme for this harvest with Bt150 billion expected for payment.

The BAAC meets the Bank of Thailand, Auditor-General's Office and other economic agencies on a regular basis, providing them information about the bank's current performance and state projects' implementation.

"These agencies will assess us and we are ready to listen to their suggestions," he said.

There is no problem with liquidity, as the bank has about Bt180 billion.

For the first eight months of this year, BAAC recorded rises of 4-5 per cent in its assets and 3 per cent in its deposits. Its outstanding deposits amounted to more than Bt1 trillion. The bank's loans, excluding those for rice pledging and other state projects, expanded 8 per cent. Outstanding loans, excluding rice pledging, totalled Bt900 billion. The bank posted Bt6 billion in profit and expects to earn Bt8 billion for the whole year.

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