BANGKOK, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Thai caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has attributed the overdue payment for farmers in the rice-pledging scheme to the dissolution of parliament since December.
Yingluck said it was hard for her cabinet to seek financial sources while on a caretaking position, the Nation newspaper reported on Thursday.
Furthermore, the rice subsidy scheme is under an investigation by the National Anti-corruption Commission, she added.
Farmers from central Thailand's Ratchaburi province and seven other provinces in the west gathered outside the Commerce Ministry in capital Bangkok Thursday to urge the government to pay for their rice.
In a move to ease difficulties faced by the country's farmers, Thai Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives announced that it would extend farmers' debt payment terms by six months, and offer new loans to those who need money for rice farming in the new planting season.
The Yingluck government started buying rice from farmers at above-market prices in 2011 to shore up rural incomes, fulfilling a campaign pledge by the Pheu Thai Party, which won a parliamentary majority that year.
The Pheu Thai Party earlier claimed the project had benefited some 3.26 million farming families since its implementation. But the scheme has spurred the buildup of record reserves and helped to dethrone the country as the world's largest exporter.