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Rice-pledging Scheme

Nationwide rice audit ordered by Junta nearly complete

The nationwide rice audit ordered by the junta is drawing to a close this week as scheduled, raising hopes that the state's mounting rice stockpiles can start to be released and the nightmare is end soon.

Since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) initiated the inspection early this month, 18 million tonnes of pledged rice in 1,787 granaries around the country have been checked by troops against records for both quantity and quality.

The headaches of those involved will soon be gone, said ML Panadda Diskul, permanent secretary of the Prime Minister's Office and head of the committee for examining the state's rice inventory.

He said on Facebook that many owners of warehouses storing state rice under the rice-pledging project were tired of the surveys and the problem-plagued scheme, tired of being pushed into the "spotlight" and tired of the doubts of society as to whether they were involved with the project.

"They would like the bad dreams to end. Whatever the outcome will be, they will be a loser one way or the other," he said.

There was also a big problem related to the rice-pledging scheme that many people overlooked - expediting the launch of that populist policy without concern about the reputation of Thai rice.

"So, this matter has turned into a defect in the country's strategy implementation [for rice] until it turned into a fiasco," he said on Facebook.

However, the upshot of the inspection in the East's 14 provinces was that only a few flaws were found. There were 429.8 tonnes of rice missing or 0.018 per cent of the 2.32 million tonne total on the lists, the Second Army Area spokesman said yesterday.

General Prayuth Chanocha, director of the NCPO, has said the regime was committed to inspecting the quality and quantity of rice stored at government granaries nationwide, as well as bringing charges against anyone found involved in fraud or non-transparent activity.

"Of that, 126 granaries [as of Friday] were found to have irregular rice, and the type of rice in storage was not the same as that listed on the records," he said.

The NCPO had agreed to the plan proposed by the committee on rice releasing - to sell 18 tonnes of rice over three years, he said.

The grain would be sorted according to quality in a bid to further pass the rice to appropriate channels such as exports, general merchandise sales, consumption and processing.

Rice trading in the domestic and foreign markets would also have to give importance to price stability as well as public benefit.

The government might consider several export methods, including government-to-government deals, selling via state agencies and selling via domestic rice exporters, he said.

The Commerce Ministry is preparing to resume selling rice from its stocks early next month, gradually in small lots, at the rate of about 500,000 tonnes a month.


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