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Junta urged to keep sub-panel tasked with winding up rice-pledging scheme

The Finance Ministry will ask the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to maintain the subcommittee tasked with winding up the rice-pledging scheme, while the ministry's permanent secretary said the actual losses from the subsidy project might not reach Bt500 billion this year as feared.

The subcommittee was appointed by the National Rice Policy Committee, chaired by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The ministry is afraid that now that the military is in charge, the subcommittee may be dismissed.

Previously, the ministry invited representatives from the Office of the Auditor-General to be observers in the subcommittee.

Meanwhile, in response to an allegation that 2.98 million tonnes of rice had gone missing from government warehouses, the Commerce Ministry said all the rice that is supposed to be in the stockpiles was there but some had not yet been recorded. Rungson Sriworasat, permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry, said it had assigned its inspector-general, Kulit Sombatsire, to finalise the figures soon.

If rice does turn out to have gone missing, it will likely result in a criminal case.

Runson also said the financial losses due to the pledging project might be higher than previously estimated, but will be less than Bt500 billion. Plans to help farmers were proposed by relevant agencies yesterday and will be forwarded to the NCPO.

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives reported that about Bt92 billion had not been paid to rice farmers for 2013-14 rice production. On Monday, Bt311.94 million was paid to 3,544 rice farmers under the scheme, and yesterday, Bt4 billion was paid to 35,943 rice farmers.


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