Thailand

B682bn lost to rice scheme, B1.1trn in a decade

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B682bn lost to rice scheme, B1.1trn in a decade
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Rice-pledging programmes have recorded an accumulated loss of Bt682 billion over the past decade, against total spending of as much as Bt1.1 trillion, the Finance Ministry disclosed yesterday.

The figures cover the period from 2004 to 2014 and 15 subsidy schemes.

The state has secured only Bt374 billion in revenue from rice sales, leaving the country with a combined loss of Bt682 billion, according to an initial report of a post-audit for the subsidy schemes. Of the total, about 76 per cent or Bt518 billion in losses were accumulated during the Yingluck Shinawatra administration from 2011-14. The remaining loss of Bt164 billion was from the Thaksin Shinawatra government’s subsidy schemes for 11 crops.

“The losses are within the expectations of the subcommittee. But we must concede that there were loopholes in the [subsidy] process, causing financial leaks and leading to problems with transparency,” said Rungson Sriworasat, permanent secretary to the Finance Ministry.

He said the losses would be further reported to the Rice Policy Management, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Rungson said the committee would consider issuing bonds to repay and reschedule the debts accumulated by the rice scheme.

Previously, Finance Minister Sommai Phasee had said the government was considering a debt-management plan, by issuing long-term bonds with tenors of five to 20 years. This was to reduce interest payments on the debt.

However, the losses exclude the results of the inspection of the quality of rice in the state’s inventory, about 19.2 million tonnes worth about Bt225 billion. This is calculated based on the Commerce Ministry’s selling average of Bt11,700 per tonne as of May 22.

The subcommittee for auditing of crop-subsidy projects will further finalise the losses of the schemes after September when the rice in the state’s granaries is inspected for quality and quantity.

Yingluck likely to make statement to NLA

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is likely to make her opening statement personally when the National Legislative Assembly convenes to determine whether she should be impeached, her lawyer Norrawit Larlaeng said yesterday.

Norrawit said Yingluck gave much importance to the impeachment case against her.

“She may appear in person on the day of the opening statement,” he said. He added that Yingluck’s legal team was not worried about the case, as it was taking the necessary steps.

The NLA is scheduled to convene on November 28 to decide the date for Yingluck’s team to present its opening statement. This is expected to be no later than seven days after the assembly’s first meeting over the impeachment case. The meeting was postponed on Wednesday after Yingluck’s legal team claimed that it was not given sufficient time to prepare the case.

Norrawit and other members of the legal team went to Parliament yesterday to copy by hand more than 3,800 pages of documents regarding the case that were submitted to the NLA by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The documents were labelled “confidential” and could not be photocopied.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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