Commerce Ministry maintains a firm stance on rice policy

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BANGKOK, 26 September 2011 – Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Kittirat Na Ranong has maintained a firm stance on the controversial rice pledging scheme, saying the policy will not by any means pose a threat to the country’s economic stability. 

Pushing aside warnings from different sectors, Minister Kittirat confirmed that the mortgage prices offered to farmers were not exaggerating as many parties might fear but were in fact in accordance with the real production costs.

To solve doubts about the program, Mr Kittirat said he was ready to invite all critics to share their ideas and he would also explain the policy to them in detail.

The rice pledging scheme has drawn concerns from many critics who fear that it may eventually land the government into huge financial losses as other rice exporters may take the opportunity to snatch away the country’s major customers by offering cheaper products.

Among those opposing the project are Mr Ammar Siamwalla, a distinguished scholar at the Thailand Development Research Institute, or TDRI and M.R. Preediyadhorn Devakula, Ex-Governor of Bank of Thailand. The latter recently commented that the scheme could force taxpayers to pay 250 billion THB to cover the losses.

The Minister, however, said he would take all suggestions of those who worry about the policy into consideration.

The government has recently terminated the rice purchase contract with Indonesia, citing Jakarta’s below market price offer.