PM claims politicians exploiting oil palm price problem to discredit government
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has accused some politicians of distorting the problem of oil palm prices to create the impression that his government is not helping oil palm farmers in Thailand’s southern provinces, said deputy government spokesman Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukondhapatipak on Friday.
Without naming the party, he said the Prime Minister was open to opinions of farmers but warned some politicians, who had met with farmers in a southern province, to be constructive in their efforts and not to distort the problem in a way which might cause trouble.
A small group of Pheu Thai core members, including Kittirat na Ranong and Chadchart Sitthipant, went to the province of Chumporn early this week to meet oil palm farmers, at the King Mongkut Institute of Technology, to listen to their problems and their proposals on how to tackle the price problem.
During the meeting, Mr. Kittirat reportedly told the farmers that the low price problem of raw oil palm seeds could be resolved immediately by increasing the production of bio diesel B-100 using oil palm as the raw material, adding that, if the Pheu Thai party succeeds in forming a government, it would immediately implement the project.
If the Pheu Thai party is in opposition, however, he told the farmers that the party would raise the oil palm problem in parliament to force the government to come to their rescue.
Lt-Gen Weerachon said that the cabinet has already ordered agencies concerned to purchase more than 100,000 tonnes of oil palm seeds to be used as fuel in power generation. The government also has a long-term plan to promote the use of B-20 and B-100 bio diesel in cars and is considering a ban or reduction of imports of raw oil palm.
A leader of oil palm farmers in the southern province of Krabi, Mr. Chayodom Suwatrattana, said that the government’s measures, including the planned purchase of oil palm for power generation by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), have not helped to increase the price of oil palm which, he claimed, has dropped to two baht per kilogram – the lowest in 20 years.
He claimed that the real beneficiaries of the measures are the oil extraction factories.