BANGKOK, 10 August 2012 – Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong has admitted that there have been reports of corruption in the government’s rice-pledging scheme.
Mr Kittiratt said the arrest of the suspects alleged for corruption in the rice-pledging scheme in the Northeast is a good thing. He believed there are more corruption cases that have not been reported. He also stated that he had never promised that the program would totally be be free of corruption .
The minister said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has been assigned by the Premier to help eradicating corrupt practices in the scheme.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has earlier commented that the Thai government’s rice-pledging program is a way to subsidize agriculturalists which goes against the WTO’s principle. Mr Kittiratt simply denied the allegation, saying it does not breach the WTO’s rules.
The rice-pledging scheme has been highly criticized by academics who claim the program will cause a huge loss of up to 100 billion baht. According to them, the government has to seek 260 billion baht in loans, with around 5 billion baht interest per year, to pay for the program. Besides, they claimed that the project will ruin Thai rice export market, lower the Thai rice quality, and that it is plaqued with corruption by investors and politicians involved in the program.