Thailand— Thai farmers sue government over rice in 2014 report: A group of 50 farmers have filed the first civil court lawsuit against the government of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, demanding a total of 19 million baht (US$583,000) in compensation for crops submitted under the rice-pledging scheme.
The government owes a total of about 130 billion baht (US$4 billion) to over one million farmers nationwide under the programme, according to reports.
Farm representatives and lawyers supplied the court with pledging tickets issued by the Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO) when the rice was delivered to the warehouses, said Rawee Ruangruang, acting chair of the Network of Thai Farmers for Reclaiming Money under the Rice Pledging Scheme.
He said over 100 farmers under the network have been affected by the overdue payments, and that more farmers will file lawsuits when they complete the necessary documentation, according to reports.
The highest claim for the group was 300,000 baht (US$9,200).
The network is also considering filing criminal lawsuit against the government for fraud, said Mr Rawee.
The government says it has tried several different means of getting the money to pay the Thai farmers, including borrowing from commercial banks.
But no banks want to get involved with lending money to the government for fear of a crisis of confidence and damage to their reputations.
State-run banks have been criticized by anti-government protesters for wanting to lend money to the government.
Some farmers are threatening to withdraw their deposits from the state-run Krungthai Bank (KTB) if it does not offer loans for the rice-scheme to meet overdue payments.
Thai farmers are suffering because the caretaker government has no money to make payments due them several months ago, said Wichian Puanglamjiag, chairman of the Thai Farmers Association.
The farmers have no money for daily expenses or to make overdue debt payments, he said.
Mr Wichian claimed that no banks have offered the government the needed loans because they are afraid of People’s Democratic Reform Committee protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who Mr Wichian says has threatened that banks offering loans to the government will face a problem.
Thai farmers, Kriengkrai Chaimongkol, a leader of a farmers’ group in Phayao’s Dok Kham Tai district which is also about to file civil and criminal court cases against the government, said “The farmers’ problem is about living, not politics. Villagers used to admire the policies of Thaksin Shinawatra and even now they still like them. However, we have to separate the problem and the policy”.