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Irate farmers pelt caretaker finance minister Kittiratt with bottles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN3lcak_ktQ

Talks between the caretaker government and rice farmers failed again yesterday.

Rice farmers use an e-tan farm truck to break through a line of barbed wire to get into the compound of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence where caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and key cabinet members are based, to demand money owed to them under the rice-pledging scheme.

Angry farmers heckled and threw plastic water bottles and food at caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong when he could not tell them when the caretaker government would be able to pay the long-overdue money owed to them under the trouble-plagued rice-pledging scheme.

Farmers also plan to hold another major rally tomorrow to pressure the government.

A large number of farmers went to the office of the permanent secretary for defence, the caretaker cabinet’s temporary workplace, on Chaeng Watthana Road, and initially demanded caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra meet them for talks.

Police and military personnel were deployed around the office to keep the peace and prevent farmers from entering the compound.

However, the farmers were able to break through barbed wire barriers using farm trucks they were travelling on.

Ms Yingluck did not appear and about 6pm, Mr Kittiratt came down from the office, along with security guards and talked to the farmers who were waiting for him.

Mr Kittiratt told the farmers that the government is trying to pay the farmers in full as specified on their bai pratuan or rice-pledging certificates. But he said the payments are slow because the government is in a caretaker role.

As Mr Kittiratt was trying to explain the procedures to help them, the farmers became angry and demanded to know exactly when the government would pay them. They said they did not want to know the procedures.

Some of the farmers interrupted Mr Kittiratt by shouting at him, telling him the government should step down.

Mr Kittiratt looked worried when some farmers tried to approach him.

Security guards had to whisk him back to his office as the farmers began throwing plastic bottles and food at him. The farmers then returned to their rally site at the Commerce Ministry.

Early in the day, Mr Kittiratt told a press conference the Finance Ministry is ready to work with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to secure sources of funds to pay rice growers.

Mr Kittiratt said the BAAC has now secured short-term loans to pay what is owed to the farmers.

He added that the Finance Ministry’s Public Debt Management Office will also arrange for loans to add to the BAAC’s funds.

Mr Kittiratt said the procedures to pay the farmers have continued uninterrupted. The BAAC has enough liquidity and has continued to pay farmers since last week.

If there are no political factors, the ministry should help find sources of short- and medium-term loans to pay farmers 4 billion baht a day and pay off all debts within six to eight weeks, Mr Kittiratt said.

Natthawat Chan-inngam, a farmer representative, said growers will hold another major rally on Feb 19 with rice farmers from the Northeast joining the protest in Bangkok.

Chaicharn Mata, a farmer representative from the Northeast, said farmers in the northeastern provinces usually supported the government.

However, if the government fails to pay their debts, the government should review its role, he said.

More than 3,000 farmers in the Northeast are now filing both civil and criminal suits against the government through the Lawyers Council of Thailand, Mr Chaicharn said.

http://www.bangkokpo...tt-with-bottles 18/02/14

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