Finance Ministry assured of Bt20 billion return in May


BANGKOK, March 27 – The Commerce Ministry has given assurances that it will pay back Bt20 billion it borrowed from the central fund to make good the overdue payment to farmers under the rice pledging scheme within May as required.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach expressed confidence that nearly one million tonnes of rice will be released through the Agricultural Futures Exchange in Thailand (AFET) this year.

The Commerce Ministry expects to earn more than Bt6 billion after auctioning over 500,000 tonnes of rice through AFET this month, he said.

He said 230,000 tonnes of rice will be auctioned in the eighth round with 13 bidders, including three new ones.

The seventh auction released more than 500,000 tonnes of rice, at a total value of Bt6 billion, he said, adding that this year’s rice release via AFET will break the 2009 record when 600,000 tonnes of rice were auctioned through AFET.

Mr Yanyong said the Commerce Ministry will try to release rice through AFET twice a month at 200,000 tonnes in each auction, and the next bid in April will involve 100,000-200,000 tonnes of rice.

He said government-to-government trading with China is another channel to release rice and the Commerce Ministry has targeted selling 100,000 tonnes of rice to China each month.

It’s quite likely that the Finance Ministry will be paid back the Bt20 billion owed by the May deadline, he said.

He said the Commerce Ministry has inspected more than 60 per cent of the government’s rice stocks and should wrap up the survey on March 30.