Government says rice pledging price to remain static
The pledging price for the 2012-2013 second crop of off-season rice will remain unchanged, Internal Trade Department director-general Wiboonlaksana Ruamraksa says.
- Published: 11/03/2013 at 12:13 AM
- Newspaper section: news
The price of rice under the government's pledging scheme for the 2012-2013 crop year will remain at 15,000 baht a tonne for white rice and 20,000 baht a tonne for Hom Mali fragrant rice, she said.
She said the national rice policy committee will hold a meeting Monday to consider criteria for the rice pledging scheme for the 2012-2013 crop year, which is expected to cost 105 billion baht.
About 7 million tonnes of off-season paddy from the 2012-13 second crop is expected to enter the pledging scheme.
Ms Wiboonlaksana said the committee will also consider additional criteria to control the rice quality. Rice less than 100 days old will not be allowed to enter the programme. She said the committee will also put in place stricter measures to cope with irregularities plaguing the scheme.
The department will work with other agencies such as the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Finance Ministry to prevent the problem of rice being smuggled from neighbouring countries and being sold under the government's rice-pledging scheme to fetch higher prices.
An online database will be developed to allow agencies to check information on farmers who enter the scheme, she said.
However, PM's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan last week admitted the government may have to sell rice under its pledging scheme at market price or lower and may have to accept losses incurred.
Vichai Sriprasert, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association said the pledging price is much higher than that of the market, making it difficult for the government to release the stocks of pledged rice.
He stressed the need for the government to release rice stocks at market price or lower to retain competitiveness in the global market.
Old rice stocks have been left unsold and could face the prospect of rotting if they continue to be kept in warehouses, while the arrival of new rice will pack the depots even more.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva voiced his concern over the possibility that the government may have to sell pledged rice at a lower price to make Thai rice competitive on the world market.
Dumping the rice on the world market could draw protests from the other rice exporting countries, he said.
They could take retaliatory action against Thailand, which would also affect other exports.
The World Trade Organisation is now keeping an eye on this dumping issue, Mr Abhisit said.
He said the government should abandon the project, which is plagued with problems and alleged irregularities and poses a burden on the national budget, and find other ways to help rice farmers.
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- Writer: Post Reporters