Thailand indicts former prime minister over rice subsidy scheme

Ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is facing criminal charges over her alleged dereliction in overseeing a rice subsidy scheme.

Thailand’s attorney-general has pressed criminal charges against the deposed prime minister over her negligence in a subsidy scheme that paid farmers above market prices for their rice. The scheme has cost the state billions of dollars.

The charges against her include two related to negligence and one under the anti-corruption law.

Earlier, Yingluck was impeached on similar grounds and was banned from politics for five years by the military-appointed legislature, which found her guilty of dereliction of duty in relation to the subsidy scheme.

The controversial rice subsidy scheme

The Thailand government under the leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra bought rice from Thai farmers at above the market rate, which eventually caused huge financial losses to state coffers.

The flagship subsidy program of the Shinawatra government aimed at boosting rural incomes has now turned as a liability for the country as it cannot fund the subsidy anymore. In addition to that, the country is facing tough competition with India and Vietnam over the production and export of rice.

Thailand's rural population comprises the political base for Yingluck Shinawatra
Thailand’s rural population comprises the political base for Yingluck Shinawatra

Shinawatra’s future in politics

According to the Court Secretary, the Supreme Court will deliver its decision on whether to pursue the case on Mar. 19. If found guilty she could face up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Shinawtara denied day-to- day  involvement in the running of the subsidy scheme and added that it was solely aimed at helping farmers. Her supporters see the recent charges framed against her as an attempt by the current junta-led government to tarnish her political career.

Thailand regime is likely to launch a $18 billion civil suit against  Shinawatrathe nation’s first female prime minister, seeking compensation for damages caused by the populist scheme.

Shinawatra was removed from office in May 2014 by the constitutional court after a series of demonstrations, including farmers who had not received their payment under the subsidy scheme.

About News Desk 796 Articles
The Oakville Sun News Desk is responsible for the editorial content you see published on this site. The content is the work of Sheridan journalism students as they learn their skills and prepare for working in the field.