Niwatthamrong testifies to NACC

Caretaker Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan Friday testified to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for the second time to defend caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra against alleged malfeasance and corruption involving the rice-pledging scheme.

In his second testimony, Niwatthamrong provided the anti-graft panel information about the government’s attempts to release rice from its stockpile.

According to him, the government has sold 21 million tonnes of rice for 200.1 billion baht and now has 13 million tonnes of paddy in its warehouses. He insisted that no rice had been disappeared from the stock while loss incurred from the scheme was lowered than estimated by the post-audit committee.

The caretaker commerce minister also provided several evidences to the NACC, including rice insurance contacts and warehouse lease agreements. He said any damage and disappearance of rice can be claimed from these deals.

He also said the post-audit committee also overestimated loss incurred under the scheme because it uses fixed 20 percent rice deterioration rate in its calculation throughout the entire scheme, which began in 2011.

He claimed that these  evidences will prove that there have been no disappearances of rice from the warehouses. Concerned authorities failed to register them in the first place. Even if there was rice disappearance, there will be people who take responsibility for it.

Loss under the scheme would be lowered by 40 billion baht, if all paddies are registered.