Rice corruption crackdown pledged
- Published: 13/10/2012 at 12:46 PM
- Online news:
The government will add more representatives and install security cameras at all rice-buying points to deter corruption, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said on Saturday.
Currently three representatives -- one each from farmers, millers and the government -- witness the purchases of rice under the state pledging scheme.
Two more people from each of the three groups will be added to ensure transparency, Mr Boonsong said on the government's weekly TV programme on NBT.
As well, he said, two policemen will monitor activities and security cameras will be deployed at all buying locations.
One of the main criticisms of the price-pledging programme is that farmers do not receive the full 15,000 baht per tonne that the government promises to pay.
Many small farmers desperate for cash accept lower payments from millers or middlemen, who pocket the difference and kick back some of that to government officials and politicians, critics have alleged.
While promising greater transparency when it comes to local rice buying, Mr Boonsong has refused to do the same when it comes to rice selling.
He says Thailand has government-to-government agreements with a handful of countries to sell 7.3 million tonnes of rice. He refuses to release details, saying they are secret and politically sensitive.
Rice pledging for the 2011-12 fiscal year is estimated to have cost taxpayers 359 billion baht. A budget of 405 billion has been set aside for the 2012-13 fiscal year that began on Oct 1.
In a related development, Vatchari Vimooktayon, the permanent secretary for Commerce, said that farmers who plan to sell their paddy outside their home areas must first seek government approval.