BANGKOK – Thailand’s Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Military appointed government is prepared to spend Bt3.9 Billion to absorb rice during the harvest season from to February.
“The measure is aimed at preventing the rice price from falling,” Chutima Bunyapraphasara, permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, the Nation Reported.
“The price of rice in the domestic market should average Bt8,000-Bt9,000 per tonne of paddy so that farmers will not get hurt from falling prices when supplies are abundant in the market,” she said.
The budget can buy almost half of total rice production, or 12.5 million tonnes from the 27.7 million tonnes of paddy expected to be reaped during the 2016-17 harvest season.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is facing charges of negligence of her official duties concerning the rice-pledging scheme’s huge losses, estimated to be more than Bt500 billion.
A government fact-finding committee on civil liability concerning the scheme earlier disclosed that Yingluck would be held responsible for as much as Bt286 billion in financial damages.
However, Prayut said the financial damages would probably grow because the government still has a huge stock of unsold rice as a result of the scheme, which will incur further losses as the rice spoils.
According to the fact-finding committee, there is still as much as 13 million tonnes of rice in the government inventory as less than 1 million tonnes have been sold.
The previous Yingluck government bought a record amount of rice from farmers who were offered a price much higher than the world market price resulting in the scheme’s broad popularity.
Prayut said yesterday that Yingluck’s civil liability of about Bt280 billion |would be increased because the figure |was calculated in 2014 and there could |be more losses incurred due to the deteriorating quality of the rice in inventory and the inability to sell the remaining stock.
He said the final verdict on the |scheme rests with the court because the government’s duty is only to present the facts.
Prayut added that the government has been unable to sell most of the rice bought under the scheme because of the unfavourable market conditions and the worsening quality of the rice.
Yingluck and other accused would have a chance to defend themselves in court and can lodge an appeal, he said, but he insisted that those responsible for financial damages would be held accountable.