The Commerce Ministry says the Democrat Party's allegations over poor quality control of rice under the government's rice pledging scheme are not true.
Vatchari Vimooktayon, permanent-secretary for commerce, said authorities had hired rice surveyors to monitor the quality of the pledged rice. She said several committees have also been set up to control the rice quality and storage.
She said the rotten rice, which was displayed in parliament last week, did not come from the rice pledging scheme.
On Thursday, Democrat MP for Phitsanulok Warong Dejkitvikrom sliced open a bag of rice in parliament in a bid to demonstrate shoddy quality control of the stored paddy.
He said the rice was from the government's pledged rice warehouse in Surin province. "It is parboiled [steamed and dehydrated] rice. This type of rice is not included in the scheme," she said. Only rice milled from paddy will be received under the scheme, she added.
Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar yesterday said he had instructed the Public Warehouse Organisation to lodge a police complaint against Mr Warong for stealing state assets.
Mr Nattawut said outsiders were not allowed to enter the government rice warehouse so an investigation would force Mr Warong to explain where the rice actually came from. "If he can not explain how he obtained the rice, it means he produced false evidence to discredit the government," he said.
Mr Nattawut said authorities inspected the pledged rice at the Surin warehouse and found the rice was of good quality.
The Commerce Ministry expects to sell at least 7 million tonnes of pledged rice, mainly through government-to-government (G-to-G) deals, this year, Ms Vatchari said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Commerce Ministry's seminar on Thailand's international trade policy in Nakhon Ratchasima over the weekend, Ms Vatchari insisted rice granaries, both private and state-owned, have a capacity to store up to 30 million tonnes of rice pledged under the scheme.
The government's latest round of rice pledging would wrap up at the end of this month.
The scheme attracts many farmers because of its high payouts _ 15,000 baht a tonne for white paddy and 20,000 baht a tonne for Hom Mali jasmine paddy. But the scheme has been attacked for costing too much and faces accusations of corruption.
Ms Vatchari said the government has paid 132.5 billion baht to farmers under the scheme and has started repaying a debt to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives, which runs the scheme.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter