Thailand should drop costly rice-buying program, confidence in public finances undermined

The International Monetary Fund has called on Thailand to drop its multibillion dollar subsidies for rice growers, saying the program is undermining confidence in the country's finances.

The IMF says Tuesday in its annual review of Thailand's economy that losses in the program will continue if the policy remains unchanged.

The government buys rice from farmers at above-market prices but has had difficulty in reselling the grain on international markets.

The program has accumulated losses of at least $4.46 billion since it was introduced in 2011.

The IMF also said lack of data about the rice purchasing program has diminished confidence in Thailand's public finances.

Thai officials say in the report that a reduction in the pledging prices or a purchase limit might be necessary to sustain the policy.