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[BANGKOK] Top exporter Thailand received bids for around 780,000 tonnes of rice out of the 1 million tonnes offered in its latest tender, the Commerce Ministry said on Friday, as the government continues to sell grain to reduce its bulging stockpiles.
Thailand built up more than 17 million tonnes of the grain under a subsidy scheme run by the government of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until early 2014, which paid farmers well above market rates for their crops.
Banjongjitt Angsusingh, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said bids for around 780,000 tonnes were received in the March tender from 40 firms. "The value of the 780,000 tonnes of rice, according to the floor price we established, is around 8 billion baht (US$247 million). Almost every bid we received was above the floor price," she told reporters.
The sales are expected to be approved next week, she said.
The authorities have held five tenders since the military seized power last May and have sold 1,177,983 tonnes for around 17.21 billion baht.
In the last tender in January they sold less than 500,000 tonnes out of the roughly 1 million tonnes on offer. Officials said in February that this was because some bidders did not meet certain requirements.
In a tender last December, around 150,000 tonnes of rice went unsold out of 400,000 tonnes on offer because some bids were below the government's floor price.
Thailand exported a record high 10.8 million tonnes in 2014, toppling India to regain its mantle as the world's top rice exporter.
The military government that seized power last May ended the rice subsidy scheme and has said it wants to sell off the stockpiles over the next two years.
Thai common grade 5 per cent broken white rice was offered in the market at US$416 per tonne on Friday.
Ms Yingluck was removed from government just days before the May coup. The rice scheme was hugely popular among the rural electorate, which remains loyal to her, but it was derided by her critics as an expensive, populist policy.
Ms Yingluck was found guilty of negligence over the controversial scheme and was banned from politics for five years in January.