1.62m tonnes approved for rice auction
Storage costs, price effects considered
The national rice policy committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved the sale of the first lot of inedible state rice stocks put up for general auction, totalling 1.62 million tonnes worth 7.92 billion baht.
The approved amount is much lower than the combined 2.07 million tonnes of inedible state rice stocks proposed by 15 qualified bidders and announced by the Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department on March 23.
The ministry called the first auction for 3.66 million tonnes of inedible grains on March 7, with interested bidders invited to hear the terms of reference on March 10 and then submit their bid prices on March 23.
The state rice stocks to be sold for industrial use cover 17 types of poor-quality grains including hom mali fragrant rice, white rice, glutinous rice and broken rice stored across 278 state warehouses in 39 provinces.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the national rice policy committee's decision is based on maximum proposed prices, quality of the grains, the state's financial costs in storing rice stocks and the possible impact on local rice and other cereal prices.
Mrs Duangporn said the department has already sent a letter informing the winning bidders to sign purchase contracts with the state-run Public Warehouse Organisation and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers in the next 15 days.
She said the committee also approved on April 12 a proposal to call the first auction of 1.03 million tonnes of decaying rice for industrial use only, which has been stored for over five years.
The department is scheduled to allow interested bidders to observe the quality of that rice on April 19-25 and listen to the terms of reference on April 20.
Since the May 2014 coup, a combined 11.7 million tonnes of rice have been sold in 25 auctions, fetching 104 billion baht.
State-held rice stocks have fallen to 5.04 million tonnes from the 18.7 million tonnes accumulated during 2011-14.
Between Jan 1 and April 12 this year, Thailand exported 3.4 million tonnes, up 9.31% from the same period last year, worth US$1.43 billion (49.2 billion baht), up 6% in value.
The government aims to export over 9.5 million tonnes this year.
Charoen Laothammatas, president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, said he fully supports the government's ongoing efforts to dispose of the country's rice stocks.