June 7, 2013 / 8:42 AM / 5 years ago

Thai rice scheme losses lower than reported $8.5 bln -govt

BANGKOK, June 7 (Reuters) - Losses incurred by the Thai state budget from its rice intervention scheme are lower than the 260 billion baht ($8.5 billion) mentioned by some media but it is too soon to come up with a precise figure, Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar said on Friday.

The government has been buying rice from farmers at a price higher than the market since October 2011. It has given very little information on how much it has bought or how much it has managed to sell, and at what price.

Media have reported various figures for the losses.

One report that the losses had reached 200 billion baht ($6.5 billion) in the 2011/12 crop year drew a warning about the cost to the budget from Moody’s rating agency this week, adding fuel to a political debate and forcing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to promise more transparency.

Nattawut was speaking at a briefing as part of that initiative. ($1 = 30.60 Thai baht) (Reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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