File photo
File photo

Rubber growers ramp up pressure on Prayut govt

politics July 05, 2017 01:00

By KHANITTA SITONG
THE NATION

THE SOUTHERN Rubber Farmers Network yesterday warned that it would file complaints with ministries and related agencies if the government fails to address by July 12 problems caused by falling rubber prices.



The network appealed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on June 27 to invoke the special pow?ers accorded to him under Article 44 of the interim charter. It submitted a petition via Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan in Bangkok demanding that the government address its concerns as a national agenda priority.

The network suggested that the government make it mandatory for state agencies to use for road construction and repair projects a 5-per-cent ratio of para-rubber in asphalt mixes, beginning in fiscal 2018.

Network secretary Thanomkiat Yingchuan said his group had provided the government with cost estimates and related calculations.

He speculated that the government was reluctant to invoke Article 44 for fear of upsetting investors who reap “monopoly benefits” from road construction and by importing para-rubber products.

The network is ramping up pressure on the government by erecting protest signs all over the South, Thanomkiat said, and would mobilise growers to rally in Bangkok and petition various ministries.

Para-rubber prices as of Monday were around Bt50 per kilogram for latex and Bt55.85 for smoked rubber sheet.

In its proposal to Prawit, the network also wanted the Highway Department and the Department of Rural Roads to work with the Rubber Authority of Thailand (RAOT) to carry out research on how to effectively use more than 5 per cent rubber in the asphalt mix. 

They also wanted the RAOT to launch a public relations campaign to try to convince related state agencies in high-potential countries to use rubber in road construction. They wanted the Highway Department and the Department of Rural Roads to provide sufficient tools to test the quality of rubber to be added to the asphalt mix, and the setting up of centres by the RAOT to provide such a test service. 

The group claimed that roads paved with asphalt using rubber are 200 per cent more durable than normal asphalt roads but cost only 17 per cent more. It said the 5-per-cent rubber requirement in the mix would boost demand for para-rubber use to 100,000 tonnes per year.