Zero Hedge Reports:
Thailand’s Government Savings Bank (GSB) president admitted that clients withdrew 30bn Baht (around $1bn) in a single-day last week and Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and Krungthai Bank (KTB), although of a much smaller magnitude, have also seen withdrawal spikes of similar magnitude according to The Bangkok Post. The ‘bank run’ comes after speculation that cash at the state-run banks are being used by the government (which is in turmoil) to fund farmers (who have not received their ‘promised’ rice subsidies of over 130 bn Baht). Withdrawal requests are met with banks warning that there were insufficient funds at the time due to many depositors withdrawing cash. One depositor, rather ironically summed it up, “I started to feel concerned that my money may become only paper.”
The rice pledging scheme, a key plank of the Pheu Thai Party’s winning platform in 2011, is proving to be the Achilles heel of Yingluck Shinawatra’s caretaker government.
Problems with the scheme, which offered farmers a price 40-50% higher than market prices, loomed shortly after it began in October 2011. The Yingluck government hoarded a large supply in state warehouses, wagering that global rice prices would rise.
The attempt to manipulate the market backfired as rice flooded the global market. The bad bet has left Thailand with a record stockpile, and the country has relinquished its crown as top rice exporter to India and Vietnam.
Thailand’s rice shipments in 2012 and 2013 totalled less than 7 million tonnes, down from 9-10 million tonnes in the past. The scheme is tarnishing the caretaker government, and things worsened when the National Anti-Corruption Commission last month announced a probe of Ms Yingluck’s role in the scheme after bringing formal corruption charges against two of her cabinet ministers.
With the huge stockpile and the government’s vow to buy every single grain, the rice subsidy is estimated to have caused losses north of 400 billion baht for the first two harvest seasons, quickly exhausting its 500-billion-baht outstanding budget.
In response, the government sought 180 billion baht from the BAAC to make advance payments to farmers.
Read More: Zero Hedge
Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Rice, bank runs and elections
Phuket Gazette – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
KTB, a state-owned and publicly traded commercial bank, last week sent outreach teams to reassure wealthy depositors that it was not involved with the rice-pledging scheme after one major depositor informed the bank that it would withdraw its money, as it was worried the bank would help finance the rice-pledging scheme.
The bank has a business continuity plan if it sees a run on deposits. However, its customer base consists mainly of businesses with payroll accounts and SMEs, unlike the GSB, which has mostly retail depositors, Mr Weidt added.
Read More: phuketgazette.net/thailandnews/
Via: Armstrong Economics
There has been a run of the banks and now the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) halted the planned borrowing from the Government Savings Bank (GSB) to pay for the rice pledging scheme for the farmers until the Finance Ministry clarifies the legality of such loans.
One major depositor withdrew their money that they did not want to be lent to the masses of farmers. This led to some 30 billion being withdrawn showing a serious collapse in confidence. Savers flocked to withdraw deposits from GSB across the country, especially in the South, which is a stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday blamed the delaying in overdue payment under rice-pledging-scheme on anti-government protests. She said in a special televised programme that the leaders of protesters have seized the farmers as hostage in their political game to bring down her government. They resorted to by all means and looked for every loophole to block the caretaker government from repaying…
The embattled government was put under more pressure when thousands of farmers marched from the Commerce Ministry and other sites to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence in Muang Thong Thani, demanding a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Shinawatra.
Read More: Armstrong Economics