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Thailand’s Farmers Applaud the Shelving of Controversial Rice Bill

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Rice Growers Association has hailed the move by the Thai Junta Government the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to shelve the controversial Rice Bill as a positive move and a mutual way out of the current impasse on the matter.

Rice Growers Association chairman, Suthep Kongmak, said Tuesday the deferral was a positive move and a mutual way out of the current impasse on the matter.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he was informed lawmakers had decided to put the bill on hold in a bid to boost public understanding about its provisions.

“They did not want to have this issue distorted. There are a lot of people who understand it and a lot who don’t,” said Gen Prayut. “I’m worried about those farmers who haven’t yet grasped it.”

The bill was scheduled to be deliberated in its second and third readings Tuesday afternoon, but NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai told legislators that the bill had been pulled.

Kittisak Ratanawaraha, spokesman of an NLA committee vetting the bill, said it was a pity the bill was not on the agenda but that this was agreed on in a meeting between Mr Pornpetch, NLA whip Somchai Sawangkarn, the committee’s chairman Gen Marut Patchotasing, the committee’s chief adviser Singsuek Singprai, as well as himself.

The group decided to postpone the matter indefinitely and parliament will decide whether to pursue it after the March 24 election, Mr Kittisak said.

“The bill is still with parliament. When a new government comes into office, they could take it up for consideration,” said Mr Kittisak. “The NLA will not deliberate it anymore for fear of sparking social conflict.”

By Aekarach Sattaburuth and Sunthorn Pongpao
The Bangkok Post