Channel NewsAsia

Thailand ends costly rice subsidy scheme

Thailand's military junta on Friday ended the country's costly rice subsidy scheme and will help the farmers through education as well as cutting production costs.

BANGKOK: Thailand's military junta on Friday ended the country's costly rice subsidy scheme and will help the farmers through education as well as cutting production costs.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said whether there would be one in the future was a different matter.

Prayuth said that at the meeting on the direction of the 2015 national budget, which was televised for transparency purposes.

"If there will be such a scheme in the future, it needs to be proven that the farmers will get 100 per cent of the sale and the policy is transparency.

"The government will provide support for basic production factors such as the establishment of seed and fertiliser banks, and the promotion of organic fertilisers and farm cooperatives," he said.

The scheme is popular and a recent survey showed that more than half of Thais supported it with some changes.

However, it faced funding problems as well as corruption.

Under the scheme, the government pays a guaranteed price that was well above market prices.

This cost the country an estimated 500 billion baht, according to the Finance Ministry.

Internationally, the country lost market share in rice sales because it lost its export competitiveness.

More than 800,000 farmers faced months of delay in payment as the government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was unable to find the funds to pay the farmers.

They only get paid when the military staged a military coup on May 22 and
announced that paying the farmers was among the priorities of the junta. 

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna