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Government to Crackdown on Companies Over Inflating Prices

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The Government on Monday announced it has set up war rooms to closely monitor and supervise essential consumer goods and services to curb the gouging of prices nationwide.

While Commerce Ministry denied requests from the private sector to raise prices on carbonated drinks.

In another meeting yesterday, chicken producers and raisers agreed to freeze chicken prices until the current situation improves. However, they asked for the government to help by subsidizing production.

Boonyarit Kalayanamit, permanent-secretary of commerce, said the war room he chairs will be tasked with following up and dealing with the high prices and taking legal action against merchants who take advantage of consumers by raising prices unfairly.As a result of yesterday’s urgent meeting, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit also authorized provincial governors to act as presidents of war rooms at the provincial level under The Price of Goods and Services Act (1999).

Monitoring prices on essential goods

Deputy Director-General Watanasak Sur-iam, under the Commerce Ministry’s Internal Trade Department, said the department has kept an eye on the prices of consumer products but has not devised any policies allowing manufacturers or traders to increase their prices.

To ease consumer hardship, he said the ministry has asked manufacturers for help in freezing prices as long as possible.

“Manufacturers need to clarify their production costs if they want to raise prices,” he said.

The Commerce Ministry will recommend at today’s cabinet meeting that 1.4 billion baht from the central budget be allotted to fund measures and programs to reduce the cost of living for a three-month period.

The ministry plans to hold discount campaigns at 3,050 distribution points and introduce more low-priced Thong Fah (Blue Flag) schemes to distribute food and essential products throughout the country.

Discounted chicken, pork, eggs, and other essential products will be available at community courtyards, fresh markets, department stores, gas stations, convenience stores, and mobile groceries.

A government spokesman said yesterday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed growing concern about rising food and goods prices.

A surge in inflation rates

During a cabinet meeting yesterday, the premier will bring the issue up in order to identify appropriate and urgent measures to alleviate people’s hardships. Any such actions should not adversely affect the market.

The premier fully understands that prices rise according to market mechanisms, as prices of many raw materials have increased. Furthermore, supplies of certain products such as pork and chicken have decreased while consumer demand remains the same or higher.

Particularly during the Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of the month,” said Mr Thanakorn.

According to Thanakorn, such high prices of goods and food products may result in a surge in inflation rates.

However, the government will intervene by asking manufacturers for help in capping inflation of certain products in order to prevent any adverse effects on those buying them.

This year, the government expects inflation to fluctuate between 1-3%.

Source: The Bangkok Post

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