- Posted February 21, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Thai military declares coup
Get to know Thai Rice Scheme Policy
What’s the rice scheme?
Thai Rice Scheme Policy was introduced by Pheu Thai Party as one of the election campaigns by promising to buy rice with the price 50% higher than the market. Ofcourse with such a populist policy, Pheu Thai Party won the election with 15.7 million votes then formed a government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. As it promised, it has bought the rice from the rice farmers thru Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives of Thailand (BAAC).
What’s the issue?
Yingluck government has spent 689 billion baht ($21 billion) in the past two years buying rice from the rice farmers which reached the policy debt ceiling, and rice famers have not received the money since October 2013, which was way before the protesters took the streets or the dissolution of the parliament. Rice Farmers need the money from Yingluck government to pay the debt they owe for expenses e.g. fertilizes but some of them decided to end their lives by hanging. Many rice famers have demanded to meet with Yingluck but rice farmers have not had a chance to see her. Yingluck government has blamed the protesters on the street in Bangkok for being main poblems to sell the rice. She also pointed out that the dissolution of the parliament is also another problem that it can’t get money to the rice farmers. Yingluck government has never once apologized the rice farmers for the delayed payment ,yet it asked the rice farmers to understand that it's not the government fault. The only way for the government to find money to pay the rice farmers is to sell the rice (15 million tonnes) , but the government has not because it doesn't want to face a massive loss. Recently, the The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has decided to file charges against Yingluck Shinawatra for her role in the rice scheme policy.
Who will buy the rice?
With such a high price, the government would have a hard time to export the rice, while India has become no1 rice exporter, and the World Bank has estimated the annual loss at 200 billion baht ($6.1 billion). After the NACC started investigating the Thailand rice scheme, China called off the G2G contracts, which promised to buy 1.2 million tonnes of rice, with Thai government. Iraq, no2 biggest rice importer from Thailand, has also cancelled the shipments due to the rice quality, and by Dumping rice onto the international market could spell disaster to world’s rice trade & would result in WTO litigation against Thailand. The latest inspection found that the rice in government warehouse in Phitsunalok has been badly damaged by Fungus (the rice has been kept since October 2013), and the other warehouses have not been inspected yet. Thai government should sell all the rice as soon as possible before all the rice will be damaged like this warehouse or it should sell as animal feed or fuel ( Ethanal ) at least it could get some money.
In March 5th-26th 2013, 3833.85 tonnes of rice has "disappeared" during the transferring from a warehouse in Udontani to Lopburi which required a total of 174 ten-wheeled trucks to transfer then a year the government ordered an investigation on the disapread rice. Thai Rice Scheme Policy must be a secret policy since no one seems to be able to answer anything about it. Yingluck once said the rice deals between Thailand and China was a memorandum of understanding (MoU) then a minute later she said it was Government to Government contracts (G2G). Months after that, The Government addressed that the contracts with China got cancelled due to the NACC's investigation, but later the minister of agriculture said the contracts were off because Beidahuang is a Chinese state enterprise (incapability of doing G2G contracts). The telegraph has also reported that Burmese has smuggled rice to sell to Thai governemnet. It has been over two years since the policy was introduced, but Thai taxpayers still know nothing about the money loss due to the policy, how much the rice has bee sold, how is the quality of the rice, and so on. The Rice Farmers also have no idea when they will get the money from the government, but all they know is that they are in deep debt which the interest keeps growing every day.
The Rice Scheme got Pheu Thai Party to the power, and it also drags Pheu Thai Party to the ground.