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Deputy Minister denies claims of rice deal bribery

Update: June, 30/2014 - 08:55
The deal was to get a contract to supply 800,000 tons of 15 per cent broken white rice between May and August this year. — Photo dantri

HA NOI (VNS) — Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan has denied an allegation that the Viet Nam Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2) bribed to a Filipino official to win a contract to sell 800,000 tonnes of rice.

Speaking at a meeting held in Ha Noi last Friday, Tuan said that the ministry had not received any information from the Philippines on the allegation published by www.oryza.com , a website for global rice prices, news, research and analysis, on June 12.

The website said the Philippines Agriculture Secretary has been accused of striking a "midnight deal" with Viet Nam's state-owned exporting company Vinafood II in April this year.

The deal was to get a contract to supply 800,000 tons of 15 per cent broken white rice between May and August this year, it said, citing local sources.

"Based on a complaint from Metro Manila Vendor's Association (MMVA), the Office of the Ombudsman questioned the Agriculture Secretary over his alleged involvement in the Viet Nam rice import deal.

"The MMVA alleged that the Agriculture Secretary and the former National Food Authority (NFA) Chief facilitated ‘a deal that would pay them handsomely in illegal kickbacks,'" the website reported.

Tuan said that after hearing of the allegation, he spoke directly with Tran Thi Thanh Tam, general director of Vinafood 2; and Huynh The Nang, general director of the Viet Nam Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1), who had visited the Philippines on June 11 to negotiate the contract.

"And both persons said that there was no bribery given to any Filipino official to win the contract," Tuan said.

The Friday meeting also heard a call from Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Cao Duc Phat for the sector to diversify its network and improve exports of agricultural produce.

Deputy Minister Tuan said that the ministry would focus on improving quality of farm produce to reach this year's growth of three per cent set for the sector.

The ministry would also concentrate on enhancing management of agricultural materials in order to build a strong position for Vietnamese farm produce in the international arena, he said.

According to the General Statistics Office, the agriculture sector grew 2.92 per cent in the first six months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 0.72 per cent. — VNS

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