She was testifying before nine judges of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders yesterday (Aug 5). Ms Yingluck is accused of dereliction of duty for failing to stop her government’s loss-ridden rice scheme despite being warned of the potential damage.
Ms Yingluck said anti-graft measures had been implemented intensively under the scheme. Several panels had been set up to examine the programme and to improve measures seen to be flawed in past schemes.
The former premier said the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) charged her despite having no witnesses who could attest to where the areas of neglect occurred in the scheme and by whom.
The cabinet set a limit of B500 billion for the scheme, which the government kept in check, she said.
Insurance had been set up to cover deteriorated rice stocks, while hired warehouse owners must be held responsible for damage to stocks that occurred under their supervision, she said.
“I did not ignore or neglect the scheme until damage occurred. Discharge of the stock was done through a panel responsible for the rice’s release. The cabinet was determined to separate the power between operational and policy parties. I had not been negligent in examining rice stocks, and I performed my duty within the scope of my work,” Ms Yingluck said.
She said her cabinet proceeded with the rice scheme because it was a policy that was announced to parliament, adding that it was aimed at boosting the economy as a whole, without focusing on profit.
The government set a pledged price at B15,000-20,000 per tonne of paddy to tackle chronic debts among farmers and to ensure farmers earned at least B300 per day, which is on par with the daily minimum wage, the former premier said.
The administration, she said, was inclined to purchase all the grain to ensure a fair system.
Responding to allegations that the programme distorted the rice market, Ms Yingluck said that 58 per cent of harvested rice was pledged in the first-year scheme and reduced to 50% the following year, and that the rest could be sold by farmers to middlemen as normal.
It was reported that her administration received 13.3 million tonnes of paddy under the pledging programme and less than one million tonnes was exported.
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