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Government Warns Local Merchants Over Profiteering During the Songkran Festival



Deputy Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong attends the opening of a new Thong Fah low-cost market. (Photo Phusadee Arunmas)

BANGKOK – The government is warning local traders not to profiteer during the Songkran festival, and insists it has yet to approve price increase requests by traders for the festive period.

According to Deputy Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the ministry has assigned the Internal Trade Department, which supervises domestic product prices, to closely monitor and examine consumer product prices during the Songkran holiday.

Traders operating at major bus terminals and railway stations are particularly targeted, he said.

Under the Price of Goods and Services Act, any traders found selling goods or services at prices higher than the reference prices will be subject to seven years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to 140,000 baht or both. Vendors without price labelling will be subject to a fine of not more than 10,000 baht.

In a related development, the Commerce Ministry yesterday started another Thong Fah (Blue Flag) Pracha Rat low-cost scheme, selling non-branded products 15-20% cheaper than market prices, mainly via small retail outlets and at retail and wholesale shops.

The cheaply priced consumer goods are manufactured and supplied by five leading manufacturers — Sahapattanapibul Plc, Unilever Thai Trading Ltd, Colgate-Palmolive Thailand, Proctor & Gamble Trading Thailand and Berli Jucker Plc — which agreed early last month to make and supply 48 consumer items at low cost.

For the first stage, 18 low-cost items will be made available via 5,500 small retail outlets and at retail and wholesale shops. After April, the scheme aims to cover 20,000 outlets over the next six months and reduce people’s cost of living by 1.2 billion baht a year.

The low-cost products will not be distributed through existing modern trade outlets such as 7-Eleven.

Mr Sontirat said the Thong Fah scheme will be kept as a permanent project, made available mainly via the small outlets located in easily accessible areas.

The initial phase will see 5,454 of the 20,000 total outlets promoted by the Business Development Department and 500 outlets of the 19,000 promoted by the National Village and Urban Community Fund sell the cheap products.

The ministry is also committed to continuing to promote the mobile Thong Fah scheme in densely populated communities. It aims to double the number of low-cost food outlets to 20,000 this year.

Retail and wholesale businesses account for 27.5% of the country’s employment or 2.9 million people, second only to the service sector. The sector accounts for 13.9% of GDP, trailing the service sector (32.6%) and manufacturing (27.7%).

By Phusadee Arunmas – Bangkok Post

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