Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom said 1.5 million tonnes of stockpiled rice has been released since early 2012 and that over 1.7 million tonnes would be sold by the year-end.
Boonsong affirmed the government's commitment to the rice-pledging scheme as a way of elevating farmers' quality of life, telling a state weekly TV show yesterday the remaining 6-7 million tonnes of rice in its stockpile would be sold next year via government-to-government agreements.
Because there were various contracts and rice to deliver, he insisted that all deliveries be completed by the end of 2013. Rice remaining in stockpiles would pose no problems as it needed food security, hence it had to stock rice for incidents such as natural disasters.
He said the programme would be ready to take more rice because the ministry had four rice-selling methods: government-to-government deals; auctions; the agricultural futures exchange system; and other channels including supplying state agencies in need of rice such as the Corrections Department and the Defence Ministry.
To prevent corruption, the scheme would deploy more representatives to witness rice purchases, he said. Currently, one farmer, one miller and one official were required to witness a purchase, but in future there would be two from each group plus two police officers. Security cameras would also be installed at all rice-buying points, Boonsong said.
Fiscal Policy Research Institute Foundation director Kanit Sangsubhan said the government had not moved to sell all the rice quickly for fear of lowering the price, hence they let other countries sell rice first. He said Thailand then proceeded with the government-to-government agreements, which allowed it to sell rice at better prices. He said that prices had increased by 6 per cent for Thai jasmine rice and 10 per cent for Thai white rice - while the price of Vietnamese rice had only risen by 1 per cent.