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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           17   August  2011

Yingluck’s rice subsidy to hit consumers

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Yingluck Shinawatra became Thailand’s first female prime minister by pledging to lift rural incomes through higher rice prices. The rest of Asia may now have to pay for her campaign promise.

Yingluck has said the government will buy unmilled grain from farmers at 15,000 baht ($502) a ton at harvest in November, above current market rates of 9,900 baht. With Thailand the world’s biggest exporter, that may raise rice prices across a region that accounts for 87 percent of global consumption. The leader presented her economic policies to Cabinet yesterday and is scheduled to announce them publicly by Aug. 24.

“High rice prices will translate into higher inflation pressures in Asia, at a time when most inflation readings are flirting near the higher end of central-bank target or forecast ranges,” said Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Once the global backdrop stabilizes, inflation could come back strongly.”

The acceleration of policies to boost consumption in Thailand risks complicating monetary policy across Asia, as soaring food costs add pressure for higher interest rates while the region braces for a growth slowdown. South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines have left borrowing costs unchanged in recent weeks, while China, India and Thailand raised rates in July to tame inflation.

Food makes up more than 30 percent of inflation indexes on average in Asia, according to Rabobank Groep NV. The weighting of rice in consumer-price indexes varies from 9.4 percent in the Philippines, 4.7 percent in Indonesia and 2.9 percent in Thailand, according to Bank of America.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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