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Group asks Administrative Court to halt rice scheme

Civil networks sought a ruling from the Administrative Court yesterday to try to halt the government's controversial rice-pledging scheme.

They also want the court to force caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to order and conclude an investigation into what they said were irregularities and corruption in the scheme within 30 days.

Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party launched the populist rice-pledging scheme despite warnings from various experts.

"This scheme has incurred massive losses. If it continues, it will adversely hurt the country's economy," Anti-Global Warming Association president Srisuwan Janya said.

He represented 64 members of the Organisation for Protection of the Thai Constitution, plus the Association for the Protection of Consumers and Farmers, in filing the petition with the court.

The petition targets the PM the National Rice Policy Committee, commerce minister and permanent secretary for the Commerce Ministry. It is alleged that they went ahead with the scheme, accepting all the rice at a price higher than market price and securing loans as a revolving fund for the project. As a result, the domestic rice market became unusually distorted with a large amount of accumulated rice in the state's stockpile.

Irregularities and abuse of power in operating the scheme had resulted in bad impacts and damage to consumers across the country, the petition said.

Srisuwan asked the court to issue an injunction to stop the scheme during the trial process.

The court was also asked to order the defendants to make a list of the number of farmers involved and the amount of money they were owed for their rice. It was asked that the defendants be made to pay or give assets as payment to the farmers within 30 days after the court issues its order.


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