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By APD writer Chen Jiabao
BANGKOK, July 18 (APD) -- Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered government agencies to speed up their purchase of local rubber to buoy falling prices of local rubber, local media reported on Monday.
According to government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the prime minister has instructed nine state agencies to buy more than 22,000 tonnes rubber latex and nearly 3,000 tonnes of rubber sheets with a budget of 16.9 billion baht(0.49 billion U.S dollars).
"The prime minister urged the agencies involved to quickly withdraw the budget so that the purchases could be done within fiscal year 2017, to boost domestic demand and help prop up the price slump of rubber." said Sansern.
The nine agencies include Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Defence Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Public Health Ministry, the Interior Minister, the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The rubber purchased will be used for road construction and production of products such as boots, gloves, pipes and rubber sheets.
Prayut has also pushed forward with the establishment of a fund to help stabilize local rubber prices. The country's five major rubber exporters will invest 200 million baht(5.9 million U.S dollars) each to the fund.
The price of latex has once fallen from 50 baht per kilogram to 38 baht/kg this year, which is a sharp contrast to the past peaks when the price hit more than 100 baht/kg.
Observers said the rubber crisis is aggravated by a slowdown in imports by big consumers and a move by some investors to suspend purchases in the hope of suppressing rubber prices further.
Farmers from southern Thailand have called for the prime minister to invoke the absolute power to promote domestic use of rubber, as a part of a bid to solve problems associated with falling rubber prices.
Prayut has turned down the request, saying that the problem is being tackled and progress has been made gradually.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)