Gov’t rice loans find few takers
It has been over two months since the government made available a $27 million emergency loan package to the beleaguered rice sector, yet only 5 percent of the funds have been disbursed. Officials from the state-owned bank in charge of issuing the loans claim the low figure is proof that rice millers’ claims of facing imminent bankruptcy were overblown, while rice industry players charge it is because the lending comes with onerous strings attached. Kao Thach, CEO of the Rural Development Bank, insisted on November 24 that the rice industry was not, as it has claimed, in dire need of capital. “The RDB expected that loan applications, especially for fragrant rice harvesting, would have increased, but now with 40 percent of the fragrant rice paddy harvest completed, the application rate has not increased,” he said. “Based on the flow of loan requests, the rice sector is still not facing a shortage of capital.” In September, the government transferred its share of the $27 million package to RDB so that the bank could disburse loans to rice millers that would allow them to purchase rice paddy from farmers.