The National Rubber Policy Committee met today to discuss the demands of rubber farmers raised during their talks with government representative in the South.
The farmers proposed two alternatives – absorbing the price differences by the government of the 100 baht they demanded and the price they could sell out, and buying rubber from farmers. They said the 1,260 baht /rai subsidy does not help farmers or those who rent farmland to plant rubber. Instead, it contributed to capitalists.
The meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat , has not yet had a conclusion on these issues yet.
In a related development, rubber protesters rallying on Phetkasem highway near Kilometer marker 413 in Bangsaphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan vowed to intensify the protest rally by blockading the highway if today’s meeting between their representative and the government in Bangkok produces no progress. Their leaders have already gathered old car tires to form a barricade to blockade the highway.
More than 750 police were called in to keep guard in case the farmers begin the blockade expected this afternoon.
But in Satun province, rubber farmers were satisfied with the promise that the government representative Pol Maj-Gen Thawat Boonfueng assured them that he would try to convince the National Rubber Policy Committee to absorb the price difference.
A protest leader Chamnarn Mektrong said they have joined the rally with farmers in Surat Thani. He said most farmers of Satun were happy with the government representative’s promise to help absorbing the price differences.
He said farmers wanted 92 baht/kilo for the raw sheet rubber. However if they could fetch only 80 baht from the sale, then the difference of 12 baht will be compensated by the government.
He said a demand for the government to buy rubbers from farmers would be very complicated and impossible. This compensatin alternative is very likely and farmers were happy with this, he said and added that farmers from Satun have all returned home and abandoning their road blockades.
However he said that farmers from other southern provinces were not happy with such offer and wanted 120 baht instead.
Surat Thani governor Chatpong Chatphuti said farmers blockading Route 417 near Route 41 intersection, the access route to Surat Thani, have all dispersed voluntarily and two lanes were open to traffic as usual.
But he said that local authorities are still monitoring the meeting in Bangkok closely and are still on alert if farmers return again when the meeting produced no progress.