Thailand extends costly rice-buying scheme for another year
A Thai farmer walks on a footpath across a rice field in Nakhon Ratchasima province, northeastern Thailand in this photo taken on May 25, 2008. (AP / Apichart Weerawong)
Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 9:51AM EDT
BANGKOK, Thailand - The Thai Cabinet has extended rice subsidies widely criticized for high costs and knocking the country from its spot as world's biggest rice exporter.
Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong said Tuesday the Cabinet approved a total budget of 270 billion baht ($8.4 billion) to buy rice at above-market prices from farmers for another year.
Under the renewed program, farmers will be paid $467 per ton. The government will cap the total value for each qualifying household at $10,890 per household.
The government said the scheme has accumulated losses of at least $4.46 billion since it was introduced in 2011, but its attempt to lower the payments faced resistance from farmers, whose votes can decide elections.