Thailand: Govt plans THB155bn aid for farmers hit by Covid, floods

  • The government plans to dole out THB155bn in cash to millions of farmers reeling from the impacts of Covid-19, floods, droughts and poor crop prices.
  • The Cabinet will consider a programme to allot the funds to growers of rice, rubber, oil palm and other crops at a meeting 30 Nov 21, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a statement on Facebook. The government will transfer the cash into the accounts of eligible farmers through the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, he said.
  • The payments will be expedited as price-support measures for rice, rubber and palm oil as well as to prevent distress sales of agriculture produce, Gen Prayut said. Earlier on 23 Nov 21, the nation’s monetary and fiscal policy committee approved raising the ratio of government borrowing from state banks to 35% of the federal budget outlay, from 30%, to fund the payout.
  • The largess for farmers comes amid growing speculation of an early election as Gen Prayut seeks to win over rural voters, a traditional support base of parties aligned to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The royalist-backed government has faced criticism over the handling of the Covid crisis from opposition parties and pro-democracy groups, which have been pressing for reforms to the constitution and monarchy.
  • The government will need to approve borrowing of between THB80bn to THB90bn to support the farmers, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said. The new borrowing ratio will be published in the Royal Gazette within two to three days, he said.
  • Mr Arkhom also said on Wednesday the government plans a further THB76bn support specifically for rice farmers affected by falling prices.
  • Flooding in Sep and Oct 21 caused as much as THB8.4bn in damage to Thailand’s rice industry alone, exacerbating woes of farmers already hurt by the pandemic and poor prices, according to a report from Kasikorn Research, a unit of Kasikornbank Plc.

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