Creditors warned not to intimidate farmers for payment

national May 30, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

The National Council for Peace and Order yesterday warned creditors not to resort to violence or intimidation to collect debts from farmers.

The 46th announcement of the NCPO was issued after the junta accelerated payments overdue to farmers for their rice pledged to the government. The order said some groups of people have unfairly and illegally forced farmers to repay debts. 
Violators would be liable to two-years in prison and/or Bt20,000 fine.
More than 800,000 farmers are still waiting to be paid for the latest crop under the rice-pledging scheme launched by the ousted Yingluck Shinawatra government. 
The farmers are owed Bt92 billion, of which about Bt40 billion was pending payment by the Bank for Agricul-ture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The rest would be secured from other financial institutions.
Rice payment was suspended following the House dissolution in December. Many financial institutions were hesitant to lend to the government to fund the subsidy, as the law was unclear on whether they could do so legally. As of yesterday, rice payments resumed by the BAAC since the military staged the coup last week have reached Bt19.25 billion.
Now that the BAAC has realised the farmers were suffering for months, the documentary process for rice payments was finished rapidly. However, the BAAC is still limited to paying Bt5 billion a day. Each farmer will receive payment and can withdraw his money three days after it is transferred to him.
 General Chatchai Sarikalaya, deputy economic chief, called a meeting with Srirat Rastapana, permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, along with the ministry’s high-ranking officials and employees of state-owned enterprises under the ministry. 
After the three-hour meeting, Chatchai declined to speak to the media.  However, the ministry reportedly proposed its plan to the NCPO to fix some laws in a bid to resolve several crucial boards such as the National Rice Policy Committee and to embrace the new economic era under the Asean Economic Community.