Friday, August 07, 2020

Prayut urged to stall rice bill until after poll

Feb 24. 2019
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By The Nation

THIRTY-TWO CIVIL networks advocating alternative farming and community rights yesterday issued an open letter calling on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to halt the controversial rice bill and other legislation before the National Legislative Assembly, citing a lack of checks and balances.

They threatened to mobilise opponents if their demands were not met.

The letter’s authors said there was no legislative opposition to vet the bills and the NLA seemed to be in a rush to approve them. They demanded that the premier, in his capacity as leader of the junta that appointed the NLA, put a halt to further NLA deliberations until the next government and opposition is in place. They said the premier had the absolute power as coup leader to override other forms of authority.

The petitioners, who include the Northern Alternative Farming Network and the NGO Coordinating Committee of the Northeast, want the rice bill coming before the NLA on Tuesday to be held back.

They said parts of the legislation had merit, but there were also several flaws.

The main concern is a perceived limitation on farmers’ rights to use rice varieties that are available in their own localities. There are also restrictions on their production and a compulsion to yield to a new management system that could be disadvantageous to them. 

As well, the letter’s authors said, the bill would give the Rice Department too much power without adequate checks and balances, while likely facilitating a monopoly on production by private firms.

 

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