ACT calls for quick, open rice sell-off

Private sector can accept losses, but wants details

The private business-backed group Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) has urged the government to sell the stockpiled rice under the rice-pledging scheme quickly and transparently.

ACT president Pramon Suthivong said new Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan should release all information about the pledging process, from the amount of rice in warehouses to sales volume, including sales under government-to-government (G-to-G) contracts.

Pramon Suthivong, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, talks to the media about alleged corruption plaguing the government's rice-pledging programme and gives suggestions on how to ensure transparency in the scheme.

Mr Pramon said the private sector can accept losses incurred by the scheme if the government shows it is running the programme transparently.

Mr Niwatthamrong said he would be willing to reveal all of the details about the government's rice sales except for the pricing.

"It's natural in trading that buyers wouldn't want others to know the prices they are paying and the amounts they are buying," he said.

"It's a competitive market."

He insisted the best way to sell the rice would be via G-to-G deals, which are expected to make up 70% of the government's rice releases.

Mr Niwatthamrong said he plans to hold an auction for general bidders before the end of the month.

As for corruption in the scheme, Mr Pramon said the so-called integrity pacts approved by ACT are just one means to ensure transparent outcomes.

He said the procurement process must be monitored by three groups - the government, bidders and observers.

The ACT proposed that independent observers be allowed to take part in the procurement process, including the drafting of the terms of reference, naming ofthe standard price and bidder selection, Mr Pramon said.

The ACT also expects the government to allow observers to participate in the procurement process of the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure projects, and the 350-billion-baht water management projects, he said.

Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt had suggested the ACT play a role in the procurement process for the infrastructure scheme, and take part in the impact assessments, he added.

Related search: , ACT, rice, rice-pledging, sales, fast, quick, opaque

About the author

Writer: Chatrudee Theparat