Thai opposition alleges swine flu cover-up, threatens PM, minister with censure
Opposition party Pheu Thai on Tuesday threatened the prime minister and agriculture minister with a no-confidence motion after African Swine Fever (ASF) was detected at a Nakhon Pathom slaughterhouse.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew held a press conference to allege the government had covered up an outbreak of ASF.
Cholnan claimed the cover-up had allowed the disease to spread, resulting in a pork shortage and soaring prices.
The government had on Monday denied that ASF was the main cause of pig deaths, insisting the virus had not been detected in Thailand.
Cholnan voiced suspicion that the government had concealed the outbreak so that small-time farmers would be wiped out at the benefit of large corporate pig producers.
He said Pheu Thai would file a demand for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on to answer questions on the ASF situation.
If the two failed to offer satisfactory clarifications, the opposition would seek a no-confidence motion against them, he added.
Cholnan said the government knew about the outbreak last year, as proved by a July 5 letter sent by the Agriculture Ministry to the Cabinet seeking budget funds to fight the spread. He said the Cabinet secretary replied on July 9 that the budget would be approved.
Separately, the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a budget of Bt574.11 million to compensate farmers whose pigs were culled to contain an outbreak of disease last year.
The compensation was drawn from the 2022 central budget.
The money will be used to compensate 4,941 farmers after 159,453 pigs were culled in 56 provinces from March 23 to October 15 last year, a government spokesman said.
The Cabinet also instructed livestock officials to take urgent action to prevent another outbreak after a sample from a Nakhon Pathom slaughterhouse tested positive for ASF on Tuesday.