Irregularities at 26 rice warehouses

The government has completed its blanket inspection of rice stored in warehouses across the country and found only 26 cases where the rice in storage does not match the documentation, Pol Gen Worapong Chewprecha, a deputy commissioner of Royal Thai Police, said on Friday.

An official inspects the quality of rice at a warehouse on Thursday. Photo by Patipat Janthong.

A total of 2,071 warehouses were inspected on Thursday - 100% of those involved in the rice-pledging scheme, he said.

Inspectors found that 26 had up to 40,000 tonnes more rice than their records showed, and the total shortfall was around 300 tonnes. This was a discrepancy of about 1.25%, he said

He said millers accepted that the amount was higher because they cannot deliver in time the milled rice to the Public Warehouse Organisation, the main agency tasked to store the rice.

Pol Gen Worapong said there must be an investigation into when a milling order is issued to decide whether there were any irregularities related to these stocks.

There were also the issues concernng the quality of the rice. However, police had not yet placed any charges against millers or warehousers. All evidence must be gathered to ensure fairness to all.

The nationwide rice inspection of the government's rice stockpile was launched amid ongoing controversy over the scheme and after 8,000 tonnes of paddy pledged to the Marketing Organisation for Farmers disappeared from a privately owned rice mill, L-Gold Manufacture, in Pho Thale district of Phichit province.

The government admits to having about 17 million tonnes of rice stored under it sprice pledging scheme launched in October 2011 guaranteeing farmers 15,000 baht a tonne for ordinary rice.

After a long controversy the government finally admitted it had incurred a huge loss on the scheme, 136 billion baht in the first year, and decided to reduce the price to 12,000 baht a tonne from July 1.

However, farmers unhappy with the decision are attempting to have the price cut overturned or delayed.

Related search: rice pledging, Thai government, miller

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