Corruption in state deals to continue: rice price panelists

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BANGKOK, June 24 – Thai farmers have repeated their calls to the government to revise its reduction of rice pledging price by Bt3,000 per tonne.

Rangsan Kasulong, a farmers’ representative, said in a panel discussion on the controversial rice subsidy yesterday that the new pledging price of paddy was set at Bt12,000 per tonne, but farmers will not receive that amount.

Middlemen will take away a portion of the Bt12,000 pledging price, he said, adding that the newly-released measure by the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to grant low-interest loans to farmers will add to their debts.

He said corruption in the rice pledging scheme begins with farmers’ registration to join the scheme, to rice delivery and release of grain from the state stockpiles.

Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom should be ousted from the cabinet as he has no knowledge about rice, said Mr Rangsan.

Kiat Sittheeamorn, Democrat list-MP, said in the panel discussion that the lower pledging price of paddy may improve Thailand’s overall credit but the damage will fall on farmers who will have less income.

He said the government managed to sell only 1.99 million tonnes of rice on a government-to-government basis – a minimal volume compared to the entire stockpiles nationwide.

Nipon Poapongsakorn, distinguished fellow at the Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI) blamed the government for failing to transparently disclose information on rice release, and said that reducing the pledging price of paddy will not prevent corruption.