Astonishing vote buying : the government… eases debts of 510 000 farmers

What a joke (but a relief for half a milion of poor farmers) !

The government is introducing a debt moratorium scheme for farmers worth 80 billion baht which is seen as a strategy to appease grass roots people as political divisions continue to widen.

The plan was released as tension mounted after a second round of negotiations between red shirt demonstrators, most of them farmers in northern and northeastern provinces, and the government failed on Monday.

A government committee on easing farmers’ debts is planning to submit the scheme to cabinet next month.

The ad hoc committee met on Monday to discuss a debt moratorium scheme for about 80,000 farmers who are members of the Farmers’ Reconstruction and Development Fund (FRDF) and 430,000 farmers who are not FRDF members.

The 510,000 debtors in the farm sector have a total principal debt of more than 80 billion baht.

The debt moratorium will be limited to 2.5 million baht each, said Khunying Supatra Masdit, an adviser to the prime minister, who sits on the committee.

She said the new debt restructuring scheme will help clear farmers’ debts owed to financial institutions within 15 years. (Bangkok Post)

Let’s summarize. Farmers are against your government and they fuel opposition rallies. You have a problem. So you erase their debts. Simple.

Let’s not play with words there… The Abhisit’s plan is like a big eraser. The point is (and it’s a valid point for the whole world) : those debts can’t be repaid. In full.

But 80 billions THB. That’s not a small amount…

Nice move.

Again, It’s going to be a serious relief for those people. But let’s not forget : someone will pay. That’s the trick. The thai tax payers, eventually.

Anyway. Where are the supporters of the rule of law, democracy and good governance principles ?

Where are the people who were criticising Thaksin, the TRT and the PPP for their vote buying policies ?

Well, I guess, we could say : same same, but… not different.


Change with Abhisit ? Yes We Can(‘t). As usual.

9 Responses to “Astonishing vote buying : the government… eases debts of 510 000 farmers”

  1. 1 MongerSEA 31 March 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Your assumption that the debts can’t be repaid is flawed. Do the math and it amounts to just short of 16,000 baht per average farmer. Given a repayment horizon of 15 years, it is very much possible.

    Further, and as per the original article: “Farmers will be offered a debt reduction of 50% on their principal and all interest on their loans will be exempted.”. So we might assume the average farmer to be on the hook for only 500 baht per year.

    The taxpayer will be only be on the hook for 40 billion baht. And while that seems like quote a lot of money, ask yourself what the cost to society would be if as many as 2.5 million rural people (assuming an average household size of 5) were suddenly turfed out.

    And you also need to keep in mind that banks don’t want to foreclose on mortgages. Banks are not in the land business, they are in the money business. Every time a bank has to seize property, they incur costs, their operations become less profitable, they have less to loan out elsewhere and their share price goes down. This is in turn bad for the whole economy.

    You are of course free to speculate on the suspicious timing of this initiative and anyone with a lick of sense would think it opportunistic. But the policy underlying it is nonetheless sound and long overdue.

  2. 2 ThaiCrisis 31 March 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Well, first it’s flawed to think about “average”. Many farmers have a much higher debt than 16 000 THB.

    Second, when you do “moratorium” after “moratorium”…. someone is losing money.

    I know it’s very fashion, during those times of bailouts and other financial insanities, to think that individuals and companies are like states : just roll the debt, forever and ever, and everything will be fine. But this thinking is twisted.

    And when you say that taxpayers will be on the hook for 40 billions THB “only” and that it’s a fair deal, because of the social cost of those debts… well you are advocating a form of debt erasing.

    This is exactly what I say. Only difference : I say it without makeup.

    Furthermore, in 15 years, why the situation of those farmers would fundamentally change ? However, we know what could change in 15 years : inflation for instance, that would crunch the “value” of the debts (the principal) to be repaid.

    Or perhaps in 15 years, the thai government will make another “moratorium” (to be faire, the previous governments did the same).

    This is why, for all those reasons, I think such policy is a gift. But a costly one.

    It’s nothing more than a desesperate attempt to buy votes (Abhisit is PM since end of december 2008… I think he had enough time before to “assess” the debts problems of farmers in Isaan).

  3. 3 richsamui 31 March 2010 at 5:54 pm

    It will not make a jot of difference to their debts over 15 years – they will simply feel free to take on more debt now…It’s instinct, they can’t help it….

  4. 4 Pricilla 31 March 2010 at 7:21 pm

    All governments buy votes, just that before Taksin in Thailand they didn’t bother with the poor, the dynamics have changed. There are worst examples in numerous countries, one day it will all be unsustainable, but why worry about future government problems, just think about getting re-elected.

    There again think about how much the government and civil service is stealing for themselves, just a little equity for some of the spoils.

  5. 5 antipadshist 2 April 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I’d like to add couple of things.

    1st is :

    actually for farmers it is not so much of a change, if at all : because even though they get their some sort of “debt clearance” (or reduction) – in reality they do NOT get any actual REAL money!

    and who will get these money ? 😉

    all those lenders – as banks and other officially approved institutions which are allowed to give loans.
    (I guess unofficial loan shark are not included in this project)

    in other words, this clever move by gov is mainly aimed at making sure that all the BLOOD SUCKERS get their money ASAP before economic crisis gets worse and while money value is still more or less something. otherwise, if, say, another half year (or a few months – who knows?) global crisis worsens, world currencies inflate / collapse – that time money will have much less value, if at all.

    so, it is smart move indeed by Abhisit & Korn !
    sort of, “shooting 2 birds with 1 stone” (may be even more than 2) : benefiting all the blood-suckers, although making it look like benefiting farmers.

    in reality though farmers do not get any real benefits, because they are not getting any richer. the whole system of farmers’ serfdom to middle-men / brokers / lenders would not change but continue. their debt is actually not really going away, but sort of being postponed, in the sense that it is being bought by gov.
    which again, as it was already mentioned here – ultimately would be a burden on those very same taxpayers.

    but of course, that way “Democrats” (and BJP) may sway some votes in their own favor.

    2nd is :

    what gov is actually doing is BUYING DEBT !
    (and naturally farmers, being the majority of population, constitute one of the biggest debtors)

    as saying goes “money is debt, debt is money”.
    the formula of how modern global financial system works : banksters making money out of thin air – by giving loans from loans from loans (credits) …
    therefore it is actually GOOD for them when there is more debt !

    for example, that is what FED in US doing now – buying debt.

    Thai gov doing the same.
    actually to be more correct – not exactly gov (which is temporary changeable thing), but more like BOT and all the banks (who remain practically same, no matter which current gov it is) – in other words, the same Aamart fellas.

  6. 6 THUNDERMARE 2 April 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Hey you website got block by ICT/TOT today, I have to use web proxy to access your site.

  7. 7 antipadshist 2 April 2010 at 3:31 pm

    here is confirmation of my guess,
    expressed by Thinitan
    (BP quoted from NYT) :

    “Mr. Abhisit and his supporters are mistaken in their belief that the protesters can be worn down and pacified through a series of half-hearted social programs…

    Mr. Abhisit apparently believes that he can respond to popular grievances by including free education programs, subsidies to the elderly and other measures in his government’s fiscal stimulus launched in response to the global economic crisis. But as political tensions mount, the onus is on the prime minister to accommodate the red shirts’ demands for democratic rights and access to economic opportunities… The red shirts’ demands may be too ambitious, but the sooner change comes, the better…

    The government’s allies have deliberately fixated on the corruption and abuse of power during the Thaksin years because they fear that the reforms demanded by the red shirts can only be detrimental to their interests.

    Though they are insecure and fearful of what change might bring, the forces behind Mr. Abhisit must come to terms with Thailand’s transformation. Concessions need not be limitless. They can still keep much by letting go some. The risk of trying to keep all is that they may end up with very little at the end of the day.


    but I think that forces behind are too greedy, too arrogant and too stupid to continue cling to power and trying to keep the status quo and the whole system (of blood sucking).

  8. 8 antipadshist 8 April 2010 at 12:13 am

    looks like this plan has already been approved today in Parliament. funny, with today’s events (UDD storming Parliament), they still managed to pass it ?

    Government aid for debt-ridden farmers

    “510,000 farmers, with debts totaling about 80 billion baht, stand to benefit from the plan”

  9. 9 ThaiCrisis 8 April 2010 at 2:23 am

    Yes. And I was right
    The Abhisit’s plan is like a big eraser.

    it’s indeed a huge “votes buying” case.

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.

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