BANGKOK May 30 Thailand's finance ministry said
on Friday it would invite banks to offer terms for 50 billion
baht ($1.5 billion) in loans on June 3, earlier than planned, so
it can pay rice farmers who have waited months for money owed
under a state buying scheme.
The plan has been pushed forward due to faster-than-expected
payments to farmers since a military government took power on
May 22, Chularat Suteethorn, head of the ministry's public debt
management office, told reporters.
The ministry had planned to open bidding for a three-year
loan for 30 billion baht on June 6 and for another for the
remaining 20 billion baht on June 13.
"We will discuss with banks whether they can give us the
whole loan on June 6," Chularat said, which would allow three
days for the ministry to choose banks and receive the transfers.
The loan will help cover total arrears of about 90 billion
baht owed to around 800,000 farmers.
They were left unpaid for months because a caretaker
government did not have the authority to get funds from the
budget or from banks.
After months of political turmoil, the military overthrew
the government and its administration has the power to secure
funds. It has made paying the farmers one of its priorities.
Chularat said the state farm bank that manages the rice
scheme was paying out as much as 9 billion baht a day, more than
double the 4 billion baht expected. It is using money from its
($1 = 32.77 Thai Baht)
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai
Sriring; Editing by Alan Raybould & Kim Coghill)