Thailand government gets bank loan 17B billion for farmers: The caretaker government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been able to secure a loan from the Government Savings Bank (GSB) of 17 billion baht (US$526 million) which will be used to distribute overdue payments to farmers under the controversial rice-pledging scheme, according to reports.
The loan is expected to ease the pressure, at least temporarily, on the government – which has been facing mounting anger from farmers who have been forced to wait several months for payments owed them under the rice programme.
Ms Yingluck said the money secured from the bank loan will be used to pay farmers directly beginning on Monday, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Hundreds of farmers have come to Bangkok to protest and demand their money in recent days , and some have already filed lawsuits against the government. More farmers are reportedly in the process of filing both civil and criminal suits.
Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is expected to file formal charges against Ms Yingluck for her role in the rice scheme later this month. Formal charges have already been filed against 15 people in government to government rice deals.
The government reportedly owes 130 billion baht (US$4.02 billion) to more than one million farmers under the populist rice-scheme programme, which was a major platform of the ruling Pheu Thai Party in the election of 2011.
Ms Yingluck’s government has been struggling to find the money to pay the farmers, who have been threatening to launch massive rallies in the capital, adding to the political woes of a government that has already faced over three months of anti-government protests in Bangkok.
The farmers were due to receive payments in October under the rice programme for the main 2013/2014 crop. Many farmers reportedly have no money for basic living expenses, and some have been forced to borrow from loan sharks out of desperation.