Moody's Investors Service used " wrong figures" to assess a higher-than expected 260-billion-baht (about 8.5 billion U.S. dollars) loss in Thailand's rice pledging scheme, Thai officials said on Thursday.
Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, the Prime Minister's Office Minister said this estimate made by the international rating agency was exaggerated due to the use of "wrong figures". He said the 260-billion-baht figure was probably the amount of money the government spent to purchase rice from farmers rather than the loss incurred.
The controversial rice pledging scheme, initiated in October 2011, is designed for the purchase of rice at higher-than-normal prices in a bid to benefit some 8 million farmers throughout the country.
In a report released on Monday, Moody's warned Thailand's credit rating faced a possible downgrade due to accumulated and potential losses from the rice-pledging scheme. It noted that the loss could exceed 200 billion baht for 2011-12, much higher than the Finance Ministry's forecast of 70-100 billion baht.
Thailand's crediting rating currently stands at "Baa1".
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said authorities were still in the process of cross-checking the account report for the rice-pledging scheme in the 2011-12 harvest season. He said it was "impossible" that the accumulated loss could be that high and his ministry will urgently explain to all parties concerned to create better understanding of the rice pledging scheme.