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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Democrats urge govt to prop up rubber

The Democrat Party yesterday called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to implement its five-point proposal to urgently resolve a price crisis facing rubber growers.

Deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said that while the government was on the right track to address the falling rubber prices, its policies are designed as a long-term solution.

Those measures are unlikely to remain effective as rubber production picks up in the next few months, he said.

The price of rubber remains low despite a low supply caused by rainfall, which annually interrupts rubber production, Mr Nipit said. Prices are likely to go from bad to worse when the rainy season ends.

He said the party has agreed upon a five-point proposal to address the problem and would submit it to the prime minister via Agriculture Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya.

One of the five measures calls for greater use of rubber pellets in road construction.

Another is a review of the government’s alleged plan to sell off 210,000 tonnes of rubber from its stockpiles.

“It depends on the government to decide if it wants to protect the farmers or the asphalt industry. Promoting use of rubber in road construction will raise costs, but its benefits are greater than shoring up the rubber prices,” Mr Nipit said following a meeting of former Democrat MPs in the rubber-planting provinces.

“If the government does what we suggest, the prices will pick up next year,” he said.

Sukij Atthopakorn, former Democrat MP for Trang, said the government should establish a policy guaranteeing that rubber is used in road construction and repair projects.

The policy should stipulate that the rubber come from fresh supplies, not from the government’s stockpiles, he added.

Mr Sukij said the other measures call for using rubber in the construction of state-owned sports facilities, in the manufacture of children’s play equipment, and in shock absorption material for rail construction projects.

The proposals also demand concerted efforts to promote local investment to bolster the rubber processing industry.

Narit Khamnurak, former Democrat MP for Phatthalung, urged the Board of Investment to speed up a decision on investing in rubber processing factories. He also asked authorities to curb rubber imports.

He said Thailand imports synthetic rubber worth about 30 billion baht per year from non-rubber growing countries, including Germany and the United States.

Earlier, Gen Prayut thanked the rubber growers for their decision to call off a rally calling for more state help, which was planned for Government House on Oct 8.

He has promised the government will take measures to boost prices, such as promoting the domestic use of rubber products, providing loans to rubber cooperatives and slowing rubber production.

– Bangkok Post

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