Clean chit for rice deal with China
Amidst doubts about the transparency of government-to-government (G2G) rice deals, the Commerce Ministry yesterday said the result of its investigation into a sales contract with China's state-owned GSSG enterprise showed it was clean.Ministry permanent secretary Vatchari Vimooktayon said that the investigating committee had already proved that there was no corruption or fraud in the rice sale to China.
As a result, the government has full authority to continue selling rice from its stockpiles under the G2G method or other methods agreed by the National Rice Policy Committee.
After investigation of 11 witnesses and persons involved in the rice-selling contract, the investigation found no unclear procedure. The committee looked through more than 2,000 pages of documents, and asked for evidence from China's government.
The GSSG has clearly proved that it is a state-owned enterprise of China. The company has nominated Chinese and Thai representatives to deal with Thailand's Foreign Trade Department on G2G rice contract, said Vatchari.
The ministry's committee investigated rice-selling contracts by Thai governments during the past three years and did not find any instances of fraud in past contracts.
Vatchari also explained that its rice sales procedure was in accordance with the National Rice Policy Committee. The ex-warehouse selling method allowing China to transfer its own rice from the warehouse door has been chosen by the current government as this method assured Thailand would get payment faster rather than through the normal shipping method.
In the past, Thai governments used to accept letters of credit and sell rice at free-on-board price. However, this government has chosen the ex-warehouse method, to shorten the rice shipping time so that it will get payment in a short period.
Vatchari said that as the current government is committed to turning over incomes from rice sales to the Finance Ministry to continue the rice-pledging project, the ex-warehouse selling method is efficient to ensure shorter payment periods.
According to the ministry, the Yingluck government has signed a contract to sell 7.32 million tonnes of rice under G2G deals. Of these, about 2 million tonnes will be shipped to China.