Rice pledging won’t favour particular groups: Commerce Minister

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BANGKOK, Sept 8 – The Thai government’s rice mortgage scheme will not be applied to pull rice prices higher in order to benefit the private sector or some specific groups of people, but to ensure that farmers earn higher incomes, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Ministry Kittirat Na-Ranong.

He said National Rice Policy Committee meeting on Friday afternoon, to be chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, will discuss in principle to plan the startup of the mortgage scheme on Oct 7.

The rice harvest is expected from the end of October into early November. Paddy in an unlimited amount can be mortgaged under the government scheme, Mr Kittirat said.

He assured farmers that they will receive fair prices according to real costs, while the government will try to prevent the mortgage plan’s shortcomings as a number of parties have expressed concern.

Related agencies, such as inspectors from his ministry, Interior Ministry, chief district officers, and rice surveyors, will be allowed to closely monitor the mortgage process to prevent possible corruption.

The government will ensure efficient rice milling and rice stocks, stored under safe temperature and for not overly long which otherwise can affect rice’s quality and price drops, he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce-run Public Warehouse Organisation has been assigned to produce packaged rice in some periods in order to help low-income earners, but not to affect rice packer entrepreneurs of good quality, such as Hom Mali fragrant rice (Thai jasmine rice).

The government is also to push rice exports to the world market by encouraging overseas rice buyers buy Thai rice at a higher price so as to help farmers gain profit.