Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rice prices capped in Three Pagodas Pass as effects of recent supply restriction are felt

Kon Hadae
Mon News
Tue 18 Nov 2008

Authorities in Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thai-Burma border, have ordered rice traders to stop raising prices, capping the cost of a 35-kilogram sack at 1,350 baht. The order comes after rice prices have increased recently, up from 1,050 baht a few weeks ago.

Kyainnseikyi Township Peace and Development Council (PDC) authorities issued the order at a meeting held with rice traders on November 15th. The meeting took place in the Township PDC office in Three Pagodas Pass, and was attended by at least 24 rice traders. The meeting was organized by officials including Ko Ko Naing, who is the Township PDC chairman, That Zin Htun, who is the commander of a local battalion and police, and the chief of the Three Pagodas Town PDC.

According to a rice trader present at the meeting, Ko Ko Naing order traders to stop raising prices. “Sell the rice at the current price (1,350 baht per sack),” and local rice trader quoted him as saying. “If anyone sells for a higher price they will be punished.”

On October 15th, Mon State authorities, on the orders of the central government in Naypyidaw, prohibited rice traders elsewhere in Mon State from selling to traders in Three Pagodas Pass. The order was given because traders in Three Pagodas Pass were purchasing suspiciously large amounts of rice, tipping off authorities that rice was being illegally exported to Thailand. “We knew rice traders were sending the rice to the other country [Thailand] because more rice than necessary was being sent to the border pass. That is why Nayphidaw called and warned us that too much rice was sent to the border. So we had to close permission of trading rice to the border, police officer Than Htwe told us [last month],” said a rice trader.

After the November 16th meeting, Three Pagodas Town PDC authorities conducted an inventory of rice stockpiles in Three Pagodas Town. According to a source close to a local rice trader, the authorities asked “how many sacks of rice we have, how many of them did we sell on that day, who did we sell to, things like that.” PDC authorities conducted similar surveys at the end of May 2008.

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