The national rice policy and management committee acknowledged a report on the rice scheme’s losses yesterday. Officials reported the damage figure to the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday (Aug 1).
“The figure was produced too quickly. It was based on a survey in 2014. The remaining stockpiled rice will deteriorate further,” Gen Prayut said after the committee meeting.
Apart from the B286.6-billion in damages for which Ms Yingluck is being held responsible as she had failed to stop the scheme, almost B20 billion was recorded as being the cost of fake government-to-government rice export deals that her former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom set up for pledged rice, the prime minister said.
Gen Prayut stressed that the damage being done to the remaining rice stockpiles was growing as there were ongoing costs to consider and grain decaying. Officials have predicted lower consumption of rice next year and mounting stocks in many countries, he said.
Commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said yesterday that actual damage would be greater to the 9.1 million tonnes of government rice stockpiles that remained.
Ms Yingluck has been accused of dereliction of duty for failing to stop her government’s loss-ridden rice scheme despite being warned of the potential damage.
Her government was in power from August 2011 to May 2014. Under the rice-pledging programme, a key plank in the Pheu Thai Party election platform, the government bought all rice from farmers at 40-50 per cent above prevailing market rates.
The aim of the programme, devised by Ms Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra, was to control supply and push up export prices. However, the world market was already experiencing an oversupply at the time and the scheme backfired badly on Thailand. As well, authorities allege there was widespread corruption in the reporting of rice transactions.
The government consequently built up huge stockpiles that led to storage problems and rice deterioration. Sales are still taking place but at substantial losses.
The Yingluck administration is also accused of arranging fake government-to-government rice sales that resulted in further damage.
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