Thailand extends costly rice-buying scheme
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Thailand extends costly rice-buying scheme

BANGKOK (AP) — The Thai Cabinet has extended rice subsidies widely criticized for high costs and knocking the country from its spot as world’s biggest rice exporter.

Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong said Tuesday the Cabinet approved a total budget of 270 billion baht ($8.4 billion) to buy rice at above-market prices from farmers for another year.

(READ MORE: Rubber and rice in Thailand: The synthetic difference)

Under the renewed program, farmers will be paid 15,000 baht ($467) per ton. The government will cap the total value for each qualifying household at 350,000 baht ($10,890) per household.

The government said the scheme has accumulated losses of at least $4.46 billion since it was introduced in 2011, but its attempt to lower the payments faced resistance from farmers, whose votes can decide elections.