The Commerce Ministry has declined the blame by Finance Ministry’s for the  loss of up to Bt400 billion from two years of the rice pledging programme.

The Commerce Ministry said that they had returned  Bt160 billion to the Finance Ministry for pledging spending after it could sell rice from stockpiles. The remaining Bt40 billion would be returned to the finance ministry by the end of this year.

The average annual loss from the previous and soon-to-be pledged harvest seasons should not go over Bt80 billion a year, he said, implying that the total loss over three years should not exceed Bt240 billion. The government has only acknowledge a loss of Bt136 billion from the first two crops.

 The earning of the government should be more than Bt200 billion this year to give over Bt670 billion in cumulative expenses, so the total loss should not reach Bt400 billion.

 The total rice stocks of milled rice the government hold is about 15 million tones of which they have sold 5 million tones and are waiting for shipment to other countries for export under G-to-G deal.

The government is trying to compel other countries to buy their stocks after which they will be able to figure about the spending and lsoose under the Scheme.

The Thai Rice Exporters Association reported that rice export volume fell 4.4 per cent to 4.33 million tonnes in the first eight months of the year, while value dropped 5.2 per cent to Bt91.18 billion.

 Major importing countries were Iraq with 581,075 tonnes, Benin with 560,647 tonnes, the United States with 247,882 tonnes, Japan with 219,667 tonnes and the Ivory Coast with 219,362 tonnes.

 The Public Warehouse Organisation (PWO) said it would kick off the new pledging phase for the main crop today. More than 8 million tonnes of rice are expected to enter the government’s granaries from October-February.

 PWO president Chanudpakorn Vongseenin said more than 590 rice millers in 60 provinces, which have joined the pledging project of the government, should stay in the programme this year.

 So far, about 370 warehouses from 48 provinces have joined the project to help government store rice.

 However the stocks for the first two weeks would not be upto expectation only 500,000 tonnes would enter the stocks. About 5 million tonnes would arrive at warehouses from late October to November.

 The government has maintained the pledging price for the main crop at Bt15,000 a tonne of white paddy, and limited the pledging value to Bt350,000 per farming household.

 The PWO is seeking to prosecute a surveyor that produced fake bank guarantee documents for participating in the rice pledging project.

 It is cooperating with Krungthai Bank and Department of Special Investigation in this criminal case, he added.