Thai rice farmers who have gathered in protest of a delay in payments for their latest crop under the government's rice-pledging program on Friday drew a deadline for the government to pay before Feb. 15.
They have also petitioned for the National Counter-Corruption Commission to launch probe into allegations of corruption plaguing the populist program.
The protesting farmers charged that the caretaker government under acting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had failed to pay since the end of last month and now have set the Feb. 15 deadline for the government to settle the overdue payments.
They declined to say how they might eventually react if the government failed to meet the deadline by then.
The Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party-led government currently has owed all the farmers nationwide an estimated 4 billion US dollars in rice payments after it had been denied loans from major state banks, namely the Krung Thai Bank and Bank of Agriculture & Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).
The farmers from several central provinces who vowed to continue to protest until they are paid for their rice lodged corruption charges with the anti-graft agency against the Yingluck government which apparently has failed to pay via the state-run BAAC.
Major highways linking western and northern regions of the country with the capital have been partially closed to traffic by hundreds of protesting farmers who are entitled to receive some 500 US dollars for a ton of their rice under the rice program.
However, Yingluck reassured that all the farmers who have joined the rice program will get paid in full for their crop and that she will find financial sources to lend her enough money sooner or later.