Rice farmers heading to Bangkok to try and oust govt

national January 22, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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FARMERS in Phichit plan to head to Bangkok this week with the ultimate goal of ousting the government, which they blame for long delayed payments for their rice in the pledging scheme.

We will mobilise hundreds of farm vehicles in our march to the capital,” Northern Farmers Network chairman Kittisak Rattanawaraha said yesterday.

Farmers and supporters of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) decided to end their rally in front of the Phichit City Hall after their activities failed to get a positive response from the government.

Initially, disgruntled farmers gathered in Phichit only to demand payment for paddy rice submitted months ago under the government’s pledging scheme. However, as the government has continued to delay payment, they have decided to move to the next step.

PDRC supporters, meanwhile, have rallied against the government for months already.

Although the demonstrators left Phichit City Hall unhappy yesterday, they demanded that no officials enter the office to work. Some demonstrators were left behind to watch over the hall.

Leading PDRC figure Satit Wongnongtaey revealed that he was in the process of finding a lawyer for the Thai Rice Farmers Association president, Prasit Booncheuy, who plans to sue the government over the delay in payment.

“I have plunged into debt because of the policy of this government,” lamented Somkuan Songjaeng, one of the farmers.

The delay in payment has forced farmers to turn to loan sharks to cover their daily expenses.

According to an informed source, just 7,000 out of nearly 50,000 farmers registered under the rice-pledging scheme via the Phichit branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) have been paid. The source said the branch could not pay all farmers because it had yet to get additional funds from the government.

Meanwhile, farmers from Angthong, Chai Nat, and Sing Buri have vowed to block the Asian Highway in Sing Buri today(Jan22) to demand payment for their rice in the scheme.

In Uttaradit, farmers have blocked a road for days in Phichai district to demand the payment from the scheme. The blockade has seriously affected local traffic.



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