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Rice-pledging Scheme

Farmers to be paid via issuance of public bonds

Kittiratt says some will be paid next week through sale of stockpiled rice

The caretaker government says it is preparing to launch a bond issuance to mobilise funds to pay farmers under the rice-pledging scheme.

Caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong also said unspecified groups of farmers would be paid by next week with money from the ongoing sale of rice in government stocks.

He said that after negotiations between the leaders of farmers and the government yesterday, in which the immediate payments were promised, a large number of protesting farmers Bangkok had returned home.

Senior State Enterprise Policy Office official Prasong Poontaneat said the Vayupak Fund, which is under governmental supervision, did not have sufficient fluidity to invest in a future issuance of bonds by the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

He said it would depend on the specific policies of each state enterprise as to whether they would be interested or allowed to invest in future bonds.

A Finance Ministry source, however, said there was still a chance the government could raise funds to pay farmers through the Vayupak Fund.

The source said the government could offload investments from the fund's portfolio, especially equity shares in some state-owned enterprises, which would raise as much as Bt50 billion.

The source said he would prefer to see the money come from the sale of rice in government stocks.

The Vayupak Fund currently has around Bt250 billion in net assets under management.

Kittiratt said a conclusion to the bond issuance would be reached in seven to eight weeks.

"Details are being prepared [so that] interest rates and the bonds' creditability would be attractive to investors," he said.

The bonds would be sold to small investors, because it is believed a lot of people are interested in helping farmers, but large-scale investors or state enterprises are not perspective investors, he added.

Former Chart Thai Pattana MP Chada Thaiset, who led a long convoy of farmers from Uthai Thani and other central provinces to Bangkok to voice their protests over the delayed payments, promised farmers owed more than Bt500,000 that they would be paid in six weeks. Those owed less than that would be paid next week.

He vowed to lead them back to Bangkok if the deadlines were not met, but urged them to return home for now.

The BAAC said Bt235 million had been transferred to 14 of its Phichit branches to pay farmers.


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