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Rice probe snares two top officials

The National Council for Peace and Order has transferred two senior commerce officials to inactive posts as inspectors conducting mass rice stock checks continue to uncover widespread irregularities.

By Bangkok Post

Sunday 20 July 2014, 11:31AM

Rice harvesting in central Thailand. Photo: Wikicommons

Rice harvesting in central Thailand. Photo: Wikicommons

Under the transfer order issued yesterday (July 19) with immediate effect, Surasak Riangkrul has been removed as head of the Foreign Trade Department and made inspector-general to the Prime Minister's Office. He is replaced by departmental commercial adviser Duangporn Rodphaya.

Somchart Sroythong has also been axed from his role as director-general of the Internal Trade Department and made commerce inspector-general. He is succeeded by Jintana Chaiyawonnagal, deputy director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department.

The junta's order confirmed rumours that had been circulating in the department since the appointment of Chutima Bunyapraphasara as Commerce Ministry permanent secretary. A source at the Commerce Ministrys aid the transfers are thought to have been recommended by Ms Chutima.

According to the source, Mr Surasak's transfer is believed to be the result of his "inability" to clearly answer questions related to the Yingluck Shinawatra administration policy on government-to-government rice sales.

Mr Somchart is meanwhile said to have failed to effectively respond to NCPO orders on rice inspections and irregularities found during stockpile inspections by soldiers.

Sinea Phuket

More than 90,000 sacks of rice were recently found missing from stocks in Pathum Thani.

PM's Office permanent secretary ML Panadda Diskul also said rice inspectors had uncovered irregularities during an inspection at a warehouse in Nakhon Sawan's Krok Phra district.

He said several sacks were found to contain broken rice instead of jasmine rice. All 175,000 sacks of pledged rice stored in the warehouse have been seized for further examination.

The permanent secretary added that the rice inspections are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

NCPO chief Prayuth Chan-ocha addressed the issue of rice stock irregularities in his weekly TV appearance on Friday night. He said inspections had revealed problems ranging from missing stock to poor quality rice. Checks also found substandard surveyors had been hired to monitor the rice scheme in some areas.

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