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Published: 20 Feb 2014 at 19.18
PHITSANULOK – The provincial governor has ordered an inspection of government rice
in 68 warehouses after it was found that sacks of the grain stored in one facility were
showing signs of becoming degraded.
A pile of rice sacks in a Phitsanulok warehouse in which signs of stains are clearly seen.
(Photo by Chinawat Singha)
A pile of rice sacks in a Phitsanulok warehouse in which signs of stains are clearly seen. (Photo
by Chinawat Singha)
The provincial clerk, Pratheep Silapathes, earlier found that rice under the pledging programme
for crop year 2011-2012 kept at a warehouse in Wat Boad district appeared to be degrading, with
many sacks of rice showing stain marks, raising fears of fungi contamination. Phitsanulok
governor Raphee Phongbuphakij said related agencies were instructed to inspect rice kept at 68
warehouses in the province, though officials would only be able to check the quantity. The rice
owner, the Public Warehouse Organisation, is responsible for the rice quality and normally
surveyors would be appointed to examine it.Mr Raphee said the province produced around 8
billion baht's worth of rice in each crop, so the total value for each year is approximately 16
billion baht.Mr Pratheep said the warehouse stored around 10,000 sacks of broken rice which
normally would have a high moisture content and a high possibility of fungi growth. However,
he said it was dry fungi and the warehouse has no rotten smell.He said the broken rice had been
kept separate from other types of rice so there should not be problems with the rest of the stocks.
PM charged over rice scheme corruption
- Protest flareup adds to government’s woes - Yingluck in televised plea to farmers - Public
rallies behind embattled GSB
Published: 19 Feb 2014 at 01.31
Newspaper section: News
Tensions are expected to flare further after the government yesterday launched a political
offensive blaming protesters for playing games with the rice-pledging scheme.
It came as police attempts to retake key protest sites erupted in violent clashes which left four
people — including a police officer — dead and more than 60 injured.
Shortly after caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivered a televised speech
decrying what she said was the rice scheme becoming politicised, the National Anti-Corruption
Commission (NACC) announced its decision to charge the premier for dereliction of duty.
The commission said Ms Yingluck knew about alleged corruption in the rice scheme but failed
to stop it. The NACC has ordered Ms Yingluck to answer the charge on Feb 27.
The NACC decision immediately dealt the prime minister a blow as police moved in to retake
the anti-government rally sites on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The ensuing clashes between the
protesters and riot police left four dead and 64 injured.
Police, acting on the orders of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), successfully
reclaimed the protest site at the Energy Ministry early yesterday. They also claimed part of the
rally venue on Chaeng Watthana Road following negotiations later in the day.
While the bloody clashes played out on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, runs on the Government
Savings Bank (GSB) continued for a second day. At the same time, key figures in the
government, their supporters, and some business groups rushed to deposit money at the bank to
stem the financial bleeding.
About 30 billion baht was withdrawn from GSB accounts on Monday by people who thought the
inter-bank lending by the GSB to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives
(BAAC) would be used to pay farmers facing long delays in payments for their pledged rice.
Despite assurances from the GSB that its financial standing remained sound after the
withdrawals, more people flocked to withdraw their money yesterday. Most of the withdrawals
were made in Bangkok, surrounding provinces and the South, amounting to a further 40 billion
Key Pheu Thai Party politicians, including former premier Somchai Wongsawat and former
deputy prime minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, went to the GSB and opened accounts to counter
the deposit run.
Panthongtae Shinawatra, the son of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, also dropped in to the
bank and opened an account. He deposited 11.3 million baht he said he had pooled together from
other banks which had “turned their backs” on farmers.
About 12 billion baht was deposited at all GSB branches yesterday. The figure includes new
accounts and additional deposits made to existing accounts. Among the major depositors was
Janya Sawangchit, a businesswoman and chief executive of P. Overseas Steel Co, who put in 200
With more customers leaving the GSB, the fate of the prime minister and the rice-pledging
scheme took a turn for the worse yesterday.
The NACC unanimously resolved to charge Ms Yingluck for dereliction of duty. She can remain
in office until the commission decides whether to indict, a decision likely to be made by the
middle of next month.
Before the NACC announced the charge, Ms Yingluck spoke on national television accusing her
political foes of obstructing the implementation of the rice-pledging scheme, which she insisted
was beneficial to farmers and the economy.
She reiterated the scheme was to improve the livelihood of rice farmers and boost the national
economy. It has been successful in the more than two years since its launch, she said.
‘’I am saddened and must apologise to the farmers as anti-government groups are holding rice
growers hostage and blocking the government from effectively implementing the scheme,” Ms
Meanwhile, the BAAC’s Chiang Rai office director Pichian Jompong told a gathering of about
200 local rice growers the bank’s head office had not wired the money to pay farmers yesterday.
He said the rice scheme may not exist for next rice crop because the new government may not be
formed in time. Farmers may have to wait for the new government to sell its rice stock or borrow
to pay them.