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No rice-loan request

Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan yesterday refused to request an additional Bt40 billion loan from the central budget to pay farmers for their rice pledged to the government, saying it is the Finance Ministry's responsibility to borrow Bt90 billion under the scheme.

Niwatthumrong said his ministry would have to pay off the rest of the Bt20 billion loan from the central budget by the due date next month before considering seeking more loans.

The ministry managed to return Bt10 billion to the Finance Ministry last month after selling rice from its stocks and expects to hand over about Bt5 billion more this month.

To help farmers suffering from the overdue payments, the ministry is waiting for a loan organised by the Finance Ministry.

The government has paid about Bt100 billion to farmers, but Bt90 billion still remains overdue.

The Commerce Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet to extend the agreement with the Philippines for three years to trade rice on government-to-government contracts.

Thailand is committed to supplying one million tonnes of rice a year to the Philippines from next year to 2017. For this year, Thailand is expected to ship about 1.4 million tonnes to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry's Monetary Policy Committee reported to the Cabinet that the economy is expected to grow by 3 per cent this year, while exports will gradually recover in the remaining months.


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