Rice-pledging price maintained
The government will have adequate funds to continue its rice-pledging scheme this year, with the guaranteed price remaining at Bt15,000 per tonne, the Commerce Ministry says. Ministry permanent secretary Vatchari Vimooktayon said yesterday that the government is expected to spend Bt297 billion on the scheme for this year's harvests.
"The government is confident that we will have sufficient funds to carry on the pledging scheme at the same price. The drought problem has caused lower-than-expected yields of rice in the upcoming season, so the spending on pledging will be lower than last year," Vatchari said. Her comments were made after a meeting of the ministry's sub-committee on budgetary management and liquidity of the rice pledging project with the Public Debt Management Office and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).
Previously, the government had projected spending up to Bt320 billion to subsidise this year's harvest.
In the upcoming second-crop harvest season, rice yields are expected to be around 6 to 7 million tonnes, down from the projected 9 to 10 million tonnes because of drought.
Last year, Bt330 billion was spent to guarantee prices on 14 million tonnes of paddy. Under this year's original budget, Bt140.84 billion would be borrowed, and Bt180 billion would come from the sale of rice stocks from last year.
Vatchari said the Bt180 billion would come mainly from government-to-government deals. So far, the government has made Bt80 billion from rice sales, with remaining Bt100 billion paid by September.
A source at the BAAC said the bank had already paid Bt170 billion to farmers for the major harvest season this year.