A senior Finance Ministry official has reaffirmed the government’s loss of Bt200 billion annually from the rice pledging scheme though the Commerce Ministry earlier insisted it was much less.
Former permanent secretary for finance Areepong Poochaum, currently secretary general of the Civil Servants Committee, said today that the figure was concluded by the subcommittee on books related to the financial bottom line of the rice subsidy programme.
The subcommittee, set up by the Finance Ministry, is headed by deputy permanent secretary for finance Supa Piyachitti who has continuously worked on accounting of the scheme in the last two years.
The subcommittee report will be submitted to the National Rice Police Committee for further action, said Mr Areepong.
Former finance minister Pridiyathorn Devekula gave the same estimate of the financial loss but Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn and his deputies were insistent that the loss from the rice scheme was only Bt100 billion per year.
Meanwhile, Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI) has released a research paper which says the government and Mr Pridiyathorn based their calculations of loss on different assumptions.
The government sets the value of rice in its stockpiles on the purchase prices at Bt15,000 for paddy and Bt24,000 for rice while Mr Pridiyathorn referred to the market price, said TDRI academic Nipon Puapongsakorn.
The sub-committee on books related to the financial bottom line also made its calculation based on the market price.
Manoonrat Lertkomolsuk, chief executive officer of SME Bank, said the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation would be asked to guarantee loans to enable financial liquidity for rice millers who must make advance payments for rice purchase under the government’s scheme.
Bt600 million loans have been extended so far but another amount of Bt5 billion must be loaned to small-sized and major rice mills, he said. (MCOT online news)