fficials along the Thai border say they have confiscated 4,000 tons of unmilled rice from truck convoys heading to Thailand ahead of the expiry of a two-month ban on exports of the staple food at the end of May.
“We have to stop them and confiscate the rice because they have no permission from government,” said Doung Sarom, deputy police chief in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district.
Officials reported several cases of people trying to sneak rice over the border in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces since the government imposed a ban on exports in late March in a bid to keep prices down by ensuring there were plentiful supplies on local markets.
Most smugglers tried to slip through at unofficial border-crossings, officials said, with some adding that the bulk of rice heading to Thailand continued to make it abroad.
“Some rice has been exported illegally and we have managed to stop some at the border,” Battambang Governor Prach Chan said.
“We can’t stop them completely because they transport it secretly,” he added.
Kong Bai, the deputy governor of Phnom Proek district in Battambang province, said on May 14 that a 15-ton haul of rice had been stopped at an illegal border-crossing in Kamrieng district and the smugglers sent back with a warning.
“We gave back the rice but we warned them to stop [smuggling] unless they have permission from Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Bai said.
Chan said people caught trying to export rice during the ban were made to sign an agreement saying they would not do it again.