Thursday, June 20, 2024

The heavy price of rice politics in Thailand

Commerce Minister Phumtham tasted 10-year-old rice, reflecting on the controversial rice scheme under Yingluck’s government. Despite high costs and corruption, current subsidies are criticized for wasting tax revenue.

Phumtham Wechayachai’s Rice Tasting

Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai recently sparked public interest when he sampled rice that had been stored for a decade to demonstrate its unchanged quality, supporting its sale. Many view his actions as a political maneuver to defend the controversial rice-pledging scheme initiated under the Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck’s Rice Subsidy Scheme

The rice-pledging scheme, implemented by the Yingluck administration in 2011-2014, aimed to purchase rice from farmers at prices above market rates. This initiative accumulated massive debts, totaling 881.3 billion baht, with allegations of corruption leading to legal repercussions. Despite efforts to boost global prices through stockpiling, Thailand’s rice exports declined, resulting in significant financial burdens for taxpayers and no substantial benefits for the economy.

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