The opposition plans to file a motion for censure debate in Parliament's next 120-day session starting tomorrow (Wednesday), with the government's rice-mortgage scheme likely to be one of the main issues, says Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikava
“The censure debate will not only scrutinise corruption in the rice-mortgage programme but also government policies,” Korn said during the exclusive interview with The Nation.
“Most of the government’s policies have failed,” the opposition MP said. “They were just an offering to please the voters.”
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government began the rice-mortgage scheme after it came to power last year. Under the Democrat-led government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the policy had been to guarantee rice prices.
The rice-mortgage scheme has come under heavy criticism due to the huge taxpayer-funded losses from buying rice at high prices and also because of corruption.
Korn, a former finance minister, questioned why the government insists on moving forward with the rice-mortgage scheme, which is of little benefit to rice farmers.
“Every baht of the budget should benefit the farmers but it doesn’t,” Korn said. “I don’t know who the government is working for.”
Korn cited figures from a Thailand Development Research Institute study that found for every Bt100 of the government’s spending on the scheme, only Bt17 reaches the rice farmers.
“We’re talking about losses incurred by the state of about Bt90 billion for one year,” Korn said.
And those losses could be higher due such corrupt practices as smuggling in rice grown from outside the mortgage programme or replacing rice from this year’s crop with old rice.