New panel to oversee 'old' rice auction
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New panel to oversee 'old' rice auction

Bidding will be 'by end of June latest'

Phumtham: Eye on African market
Phumtham: Eye on African market

A panel has been formed to oversee the auctioning off of 15,000 tonnes of rice left over from the controversial rice-pledging scheme launched during former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's administration, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said.

The panel will draw up the terms of reference (TOR) for the rice auction, he said, adding the ToR is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

He said there is no need to present the TOR for consideration by the National Rice Policy and Management Committee (NRPMC) because the committee has already authorised the panel to do so.

The panel comprises representatives from the Public Warehouse Organisation, the Marketing Organisation for Farmers, the Internal Trade Department, the Foreign Trade Department and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, he said.

The auction is expected to be carried out early next month or no later than the end of June, he said.

Mr Phumtham went on to say that bidders will be allowed to check the quality of the rice, in line with the criteria set by the Commerce Ministry.

"The rice is expected to be exported to Africa. We hope the auction will fetch a good price," he said.

"Revenue from the sale will be returned to state coffers. I am glad the controversy over the rice has ended."

Mr Phumtham previously called on critics to stop "devaluing" the rice and move on to other pressing issues, such as the economy, saying it was inspected and found to be safe for consumption by the Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc) and a private laboratory.

On Monday, the DMSc said the rice samples sent by the Commerce Ministry for testing were found to be safe for consumption.

However, critics remained sceptical and questioned whether the rice samples were from the two warehouses in Surin where the rice had been stored.

They suggested new testing be carried out, with the entire process observed by media outlets.

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