Monday, October 23, 2017
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Government slams call for rice checks

Posted by pakin On July - 31 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd has accused politicians and rice mill owners who are calling for a new inspection of rice stocks under the controversial rice-pledging scheme of being part of a politically-motivated movement.

Lt Gen Sansern said it was no coincidence the movement comes just before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is to hand down its ruling in the rice-pledging case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Aug 25.

“This could be seen as an attempt to create some kind of impact on the case or a bid to draw public sympathy for Ms Yingluck,” he said.

“The Commerce Ministry has already explained on several occasions its principles in releasing the rice under the scheme,” he added.

He said some groups are still attempting to claim that good-quality rice has been sold along with the bad-quality stock, which made the rice prices drop.

“The irony is that most of these groups will actually be held responsible for losses associated with bad-quality rice kept at the scheme’s warehouses,” he said.

Previously, the owners of eight rice warehouses had called on the government to conduct a new round of quality checks on rice under the scheme, saying they weren’t confident in the results of past inspections conducted by officials.

According to warehouse owners, normal rice was auctioned along with rice used for producing animal feed, which is a waste of money.

They claimed they weren’t aware of the government’s intention to sell the rice as ingredients in animal feed until the days on which the auctions were held.

They added their move should help prevent further losses that could be worth several billion baht.

Itsaraphon Khongchawi, the owner of Worachot warehouse in Ang Thong, was the first to come up with a call for new inspection of the rice, saying she was confident the rice kept at her warehouse under the rice-pledging scheme was of good quality and was never intended to be sold as animal feed.

She said she had not been aware that one stack of C-grade rice at the warehouse would be sold along with four other stacks of rice graded as A and B — edible to humans — as animal feed.

If this 6,000 tonnes of rice is sold as animal feed, the government will face a further loss of at least 30 million baht, Ms Itsaraphon said.

The owner of Thawon Chokchai rice warehouse in Saraburi said although one half of the stock at his warehouse is of good A-grade quality while the other half is of C-grade quality, a random test conducted in 2014 showed all the rice in this warehouse was of C-grade quality, which has to be sold as animal feed.

According to the owner of Kit Charoen Sap warehouse in Lop Buri, given the 5.7 million tonnes of rice already sold as animal feed, the government is estimated to have lost more than 2 billion baht.

Wongwirot Palawat, the owner of Charoen Prapha warehouse in Lop Buri, insisted the move to call for a new inspection of the rice stock by the eight warehouse owners wasn’t politically motivated.

“The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) has always responded in a formal letter to every complaint by these owners of rice warehouses and mills as well as the surveyor companies contracted to handle rice quality inspections,” DFP director-general Duangporn Rodphaya said.

“More importantly, these warehouses are the ones facing lawsuits lodged against them by both the Public Warehouse Organisation and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers over the substandard quality of the rice kept there under the rice scheme.

“Official results of the rice inspection that began in 2014 have been made public and used as evidence to pursue legal action against those who are held responsible for the damage in the rice scheme.

“At this point the eight warehouses have the right to make legal arguments and back their arguments with whatever facts they may have, but they won’t be able to request for new inspection of the rice as that process has already passed.”

“Nor do they have any right to suspend the government from selling the rice as the longer the rice sale is delayed, more damage will occur to the state,” she said, adding that the sales of rice from the eight warehouses have been completed under the rice policy and management committee’s resolution.

 

Cabinet approves a variety of reshuffles

Posted by pakin On July - 26 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Source says Theerapat is being moved to Prime minister’s office because he did not respond to orders.

AGRICULTURE and Cooperatives Ministry permanent secretary Theerapat Prayurasiddhi will be transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister on October 1.

The Cabinet approved his transfer yesterday, along with the rotation of several senior officials belonging to various ministries.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister General Chatchai Sarikalya said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm was interested in Theerapat’s abilities and had requested his transfer.

The source added that Leadviroj’s most recognised achievement was the AgriMap app that helped farmers decide what types of plants were suitable for their farmland location, while Somchai had stood out in work on projects related to HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s concepts.

As for the Public Health Ministry, Dr Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk – who now heads the Disease Control Department – is poised to succeed Dr Sopon Mekthon as the permanent secretary.

Sopon will retire due to his age on September 30.

With a medical degree from Southwestern University in the Philippines, Jedsada will become the first permanent secretary for Public Health who has not graduated from a prestigious Thai medical school.

The Cabinet also approved the promotion of Energy Ministry deputy permanent secretary Thammayot Srichuai to the post of the ministry’s permanent secretary while PM’s Office deputy secretary-general Patcharaporn Intreyonk will rise to the helm of her agency.

Agency promotions have also taken place.

For example, the Cabinet yesterday gave the green light to the appointment of the Board of Investment deputy secretary-general Ajarin Pattanapanchai as the new permanent secretary for Digital Economy and Society.

Local Administration Department director-general Jarin Chakkaphark has also been endorsed as the new permanent secretary for Labour.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda said his ministry had concluded reshuffles of officials at similar levels already, many of which won Cabinet approval yesterday.

For example, Interior Ministry deputy permanent secretary Chayapon Thitisak will become the new director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department starting on October 1.

Another deputy permanent secretary for Interior, Nattapong Sirichana, will become Nakhon Nayok province governor. Nisit Chansomwong, another deputy permanent secretary, will serve as Nonthaburi governor.

 

Yingluck Shinawatra has taken to Facebook to say she will continue to fight to prove her innocence in the negligence court case against, apparently in response to the government’s move to block her supporters and seize her assets.

The verdict in the negligent case, relating to the her then-government’s rice-pledging scheme, will be read on August 25.

“I did not do anything wrong,” the ex-premier said on her Facebook. “What I can say is that I’m still strong, and ready to fight to prove my innocence.”

Yingluck said she wanted to speak out to reflect the current effort to “create a condition” before the court rules on her case.

Prayut said anyone who planned to mobilise in Bangkok should be aware that doing so would be illegal.

“Such an act is against the law. You may not face legal action immediately but you can’t escape it eventually. The law is still the law,” he said.

“You may like or love anyone as you please. But you don’t need to cause trouble for other people while doing so.”

His remarks came amid concerns about an attempt to mobilise large numbers of people from the provinces to gather at the court for the verdict.

The Department of Legal Execution, meanwhile, is eyeing seizing 12 of Yingluck’s bank accounts in the first civil liability action against her.

While the Finance Ministry, representing the government as the plaintiff in the case, is also pursuing other assets belonging to the ex-premier.

The asset seizure attempts are being conducted in accordance with the civil liability committee’s resolution for Yingluck to pay Bt35 billion in compensation to the state to cover heavy losses in the rice-pledging scheme, estimated at several hundred billion baht.

Yingluck has been charged with criminal negligence for allegedly failing to stop irregularities stemming from the rice-pledging scheme.

 

A meeting of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Tuesday approved the invocation of special power under Article 44 of the interim charter to accelerate the development of projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Invocation of this special power is expected to take place in the next few days, covering three areas, said Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

First, it will be executed to speed up the conduct of environment impact assessment (EIA) of each of the planned key projects in the EEC, with the national environment committee being able to appoint a panel of experts to dedicatedly study the environment impact of specific projects.

Foreign experts will also be allowed to sit on this committee, which will have to finish the EIA study of each project within a year of receiving the preliminary EIA report on the project, he said.

Second, the special power provided for under Article 44 will empower the board steering EEC development policy to approve the various public-private partnership (PPP) projects that will be set up in the corridor, without the need to seek consideration of the PPP committee, the spokesman said.

However, approvals of these PPP projects will have to involve consultation with the Finance Ministry and related state agencies in order to ensure transparency.

Third, Article 44 invocation will permit foreign private-aviation firms to hold a share of more than 50 per cent in aviation-related businesses they plan to invest in the EEC’s aviation industry zone, Sansern said.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the board steering EEC development policy, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, would have direct authority to consider on a case-by-case basis which foreign companies should be allowed to over 50 per cent in aviation businesses within the zone, as the privilege would not be on offer to all foreign entities.

Foreign firms eligible to enjoy the privilege must submit proposals that cover investment, technology transfer, local employment, and a plan to support related businesses in Thailand, the minister explained.

The EEC – taking in the provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong – is targeted for massive infrastructure spending to support technologically advanced industries.

 

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