BANGKOK, Aug 23 – Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce will sell rice directly to state enterprises and the private sector abroad in a new attempt to release rice from the government’s stockpiles.
Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan said overseas buyers would be required to buy rice at prices not lower than the general bidding prices and government-to-government purchase must be for export only.
The new measures, concluded in the Rice Release Sub-committee, will be submitted to the National Rice Policy Committee on Monday for approval.
He said rice traders in China and the Middle East have asked to purchase rice directly from state stock, adding that domestic auctions would continue but that some regulations would be adjusted to attract more bidders.
About 200,000-400,000 tonnes of rice in the government’s stockpiles will be packed in five-kg packages to be sold at Bt85 per unit, he said.
The private sector will be hired to pack the rice to be sold at the Commerce Ministry’s economy-priced commodity shops and government agencies.
Mr Niwatthamrong said he would discuss guidelines on the new rice purchase plan with farmer representatives from various groups and associations.
The new guidelines, which must be approved by the Cabinet, should be implemented in time for the October harvest season, he said.
Wiboonlaksana Ruamraksa, Internal Trade Department director general, said the government would probably purchase rice under the subsidy scheme only once in the 2013/14 harvest and the 2014 second crop if the pledging price is fixed at Bt15,000 per tonne.
If the pledging price is lowered to Bt12,000 per tonne, two rounds of purchase will be possible, she said.
She said the scheme would cost government not more than Bt300 billion.
The Commerce Ministry will hold a bidding for the first batch of 140,000 tonnes of rice through the Agricultural Futures Exchange of Thailand (AFET) early next month.
The bidding will include 100,000 tonnes of white rice and 40,000 tonnes of Hom Mali or fragrant rice to be delivered in November, she said.
Mr Niwatthamrong has approved an allocation of Bt240 million from the International Trade Promotion Fund as collateral for the AFET trading, she said.