Commerce Ministry: No corruption in government rice deals

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BANGKOK, March 22 – Thailand’s Commerce Ministry today quashed allegations of corruption and gave a clean bill of correctness to the government’s rice trading activity during the last three years.

Permanent Secretary for Commerce Vatchari Vimooktayon said an investigative committee has inspected relevant documents and questioned a total of 11 people and concluded that the government’s rice release in the past three years has been in accord with the strategy imposed by the National Rice Policy Committee (NRPC).

The NRPC authorised a rice distribution sub-committee to decide the quantity, varieties, time frame and conditions for releasing rice into the market enphasising the ultimate interest of the country, she explained.

The sub-committee’s conclusion must be stamped as certified by its chairman prior to being forwarded to the NRPC chairman for final approval before delivering the rice to buyers, she added.

Regarding an allegation of an unscrupulous rice deal with China-based GSSG Company, Ms Vatchari said an investigation found documents endorsing GSSG as a genuine Chinese state enterprise.

The commerce minister, in his capacity as chairman of the rice release sub-committee, was authorised to negotiate with GSSG after which an agreement was signed, she said, confirming that there were signatures of Chinese-authorised dealers.

GSSG was charged with failing to transport the rice from government-to-government deal out of the country but instead re-distributed the purchased rice in Thailand.

Ms Vatchari said the rice consignment was sold on an ‘ex-warehouse’ basis and the Commerce Ministry is not responsible for rice that left the government’s warehouses once it receives payment from the buyer.

With this system, she explained, payments to the Commerce Ministry and the government are speedy while management burden was eliminated.

She stressed that the government’s process in releasing rice from its stockpiles is complicated to prevent corruption and that allegations of corruption by some parliamentarians are groundless.