The Democrat Party is gearing up to grill the government on its rice-pledging scheme, saying the programme is still rife with graft.
Democrat list-MP Ongart Klampaiboon said Sunday the scheme is still plagued with corruption despite attempts by ministers and state officials to handle the issue.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, as chairwoman of the National Rice Policy Committee, must boost efforts to stop graft, or else she would learn about the scheme's problems through no-confidence motions, he said.
Mr Ongart said evidence of fraud has been found in how rice moisture and weight are measured, referring to the first step when farmers deliver their produce to rice mills.
Even those who are not farmers were found to have exploited the scheme, he said.
At the second stage of the process, when rice is stored, the Democrat MP said some people were able to dip into budgets for expenses concerning checks on rice quality, fumigation and insurance management.
Concerning the rice release process, Mr Ongart said the Democrats discovered some purported government-to-government purchase deals did not in fact exist. Some nominees were set up to benefit from the government's rice releases, he added.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Noppparit yesterday denied claims by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva that the rice scheme had lost 400 billion baht.
He asked Mr Abhisit to heed the views of Thai Agriculturist Association president Wichien Phuanglamjiak, who said farmers are satisfied with the rice pledging scheme. Mr Prompong challenged the opposition to file a no-confidence motion against the government or lodge a request with watchdogs for an inquiry, if they thought their evidence of fraud was so convincing.
Referring to fresh protests by a network of rubber and oil palm growers in Prachuap Khiri Khan yesterday, Mr Prompong said he understood two politicians were behind the movement.
He has heard the group of rubber farmers could expand their protest to include the amnesty bill and the ruling on the Preah Vihear temple dispute.