Another major rice pledging budget approved

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BANGKOK, Oct 2 – A Bt240-billlion budget to pledge 15 million tonnes of paddy in the 2012-2013 harvest sailed through the Thai cabinet Tuesday amid criticism from academics and the private sector over a lack of transparency in the government’s rice pledging scheme.

Vatchari Vimooktayon, permanent secretary for commerce, said after the cabinet meeting that the new round of pledging will be limited to 15 million tonnes of paddy from the annual harvest which began Oct 1 and continues to Sept 15 next year.

The Bt150-billion loan will be earmarked by the finance ministry while the commerce ministry will deliver Bt40 billion from the sale of paddy to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) at the end of this month, she said.

Ms Vatchari said the commerce ministry expected to earn an additional Bt100 billion by year end from the paddy sales, adding that the two amounts combined will be sufficient for the pledging of the yearly harvest of paddy. The BAAC is responsible for the cash flow for the rice pledging scheme.

The cabinet rejected the agriculture ministry’s request to pledge an additional 3.3 million tonnes of paddy from the second harvest, reasoning that the pledging of 14.3 million tonnes from the second harvest last year was rather high.

The cabinet added that it would take six months before the next second crop cultivation begins.