Thailand is to scrap a contentious rice subsidy scheme that has cost billions of dollars and stoked the country’s deepening political crisis, the government said on Tuesday.
The crisis-hit programme, which has sparked protests from unpaid farmers, will end this month because the nation’s caretaker administration has no authority to extend it, ministers said.
The sudden announcement raises the stakes in the battle for political control of Thailand, although the government refused to rule out reviving an ailing scheme that is central to its appeal to its rural electoral heartland.
The rice program officially eats up at least $4 billion a year but is gripped by a funding crisis, with the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister, unable to raise money from banks or bonds to settle debts with farmers dating as far back as September.
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