Government approves urgent measures to fight drought

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The Cabinet yesterday approved three measures to resolve problems from drought which is expected to be worse this year.

Acting Finance Minister Aphisak Tantiworawong said the measures aimed at tackling the severe problems that farmers are expected to be affected as a result of the worsening drought situation in the country.

The three measures proposed includes a one year emergency loan program valued at six billion baht with 12,000 baht set for individual loans. This loan will be able to provide loans for 500,000 farmers

The second measure is the setting up of a ‘One Tambon One Agricultural SME’ program to develop competitiveness for local famers within the next 10 years.

About 72 billion baht has been set aside to provide loans not exceeding 20 million Baht per individual.

This will allow approximately 72,000 potential SME operators access to vital funds.

Under the plan, operators with difficulty producing the needed collateral can apply to the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation for special consideration.

The last measures calls for the promotion of increased crop rotation to reduce the dependence on water supplies in 26 provinces located within the Chao Phraya and Mae Klong river basins.

The aim is for farmers to focus on shorter term crops that are hardier and require less water supplies to curtail dependence on national water stocks.

Accordingly, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives has set aside 15 billion Baht for such a purpose with a goal of providing around 100,000 farmers with financial support.

On top of all this, the cabinet also approved measures where SMEs are allowed to deduct 100% of all wages used for hiring accounting students in their operations from their overheads.

This they hope will ensure that more and more SMEs use a single account for book-keeping purposes.

Furthermore, the cabinet also signed-off on expanding the repayment period for guaranteed loans of SMEs with earnings below 200,000 Baht per year.

The government will be guaranteeing a total of 13.5 billion baht for loans wherein 200,000 Baht will be given to each individual.

A principle repayment reprieve for the first year will also be provided so that small operators are given a higher chance of succeeding.