State rice stocks strictly controlled after smuggling reported


BANGKOK, Mar 18 – The Commerce Ministry has strictly controlled rice in the state stockpiles after 1,000 sacks went missing from a warehouse in the northeastern province of Buri Ram, a senior official said.

Internal Trade Department director general Somchart Sroythong said the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) was asked to take legal action against rice smugglers.

He said the department is awaiting a report on rice stock from 2011 to today during which over 800 rice mills have joined the rice pledging scheme, and from 1,700 central warehouses under Commerce Ministry supervision.

The Commerce Ministry was informed that 1,000 sacks of rice from the 2012/2013 harvest disappeared from a Buriram warehouse last month.

AMLO and government agencies concerned were asked to investigate the case and those found guilty of smuggling could face a maximum three years’ jail term, he said, adding that there were a few cases of rice and tapioca smuggling.

The Commerce Ministry will take stern legal action against those found guilty of smuggling rice, he said.

Mr Somchart said the Commerce Ministry’s plan to auction 240,000 tonnes of rice through the Agriculture Futures Exchange of Thailand (AFET) would be postponed to tomorrow due to a power blackout caused by anti-government protesters.

Another round of auction for 200,000 tonnes of rice will be held on March 26, he said, adding that the ministry has released 1 million tonnes of rice in six auctions via AFET, and approved the sale of 389,000 tonnes at Bt4 billion.

The Foreign Trade Department has auctioned and sold 700,000-800,000 tonnes of rice at a value of Bt20-25 billion since late last year after which farmers would be paid for their grain under the rice pledging scheme.