6 June 2024

Tackling bread-and-butter issues was the focus of the debate of representatives of five political parties taking part in an election forum organized by Thai PBS on Tuesday night.

They took a common stand in trying to reduce economic disparity and raise income for the poor and those in the agricultural sector. However, each offered different approach in dealing with the problems.

Kittiratt Na-Ranong of Pheu Thai Party vowed to push for a more effective scheme to help lift the livelihood of farmers.   It was Pheu Thai Party which initiated the controversial and costly rice-pledging scheme that was a major cause of the Yingluck government’s downfall.

Kittiratt said if the party returns to power it would introduce a new approach in addressing the issue of paddy prices, which includes extending loans to farmers to help them delay their paddy sales, rice pledging at market price, increasing the purchasing power of rice-millers, and using of subsidies to ensure proper incomes for rice farmer.

Kobsak Pootrakool of the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party pledged to use market mechanisms to ensure fair income for farmers.  He emphasized the party’s policy to provide a harvest subsidy of 70,000 baht for every 20 rai of paddy fields.

Pisit Leeahtam of the Democrat party vowed to introduce an income guarantee scheme for farmers to shield them from effects from fluctuating paddy prices, along with measures to prevent corruption in the process.

Mingkwan Sangsuwan of the Setthakij Mai party pledged to bring back what he described as the glory days of farmers when paddy prices hit the ceiling while he was deputy prime minister of the Samak government.

Ekaporn Rakkwamsuk, leader of the Thai Citizen Power party, floated the idea of setting a “Ministry of Food” to manage the agricultural sector and food production.  He also wants to see more efficient use of big data to manage the agricultural cycle from farm to fork and stressed that effective measures need to be introduced to prevent corruption in the process.