Yanyong Phuangrach, permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, yesterday demanded that the Democrat Party dump Chavanond Intarakomalyasut as its spokesman over his claims that consumer product prices were rising all over.
“I’m ready to gamble my post, although his bet is lower as he’s not an MP. I dare him to reveal if he has any information that the Commerce Ministry fabricated (price) data or skewed them in favour of the political powers. Please show or declare it to the public,” he said.
“In the past, under the Democrat government, the Commerce Ministry was the mechanism to help solve product price problems including the palm oil shortage or the (implementation of the idea of) selling eggs by weight,” he said after disparaging Chavanond’s looks and personality.
Chavanond was unfair in insisting that all goods are expensive everywhere, he said.
In fact, some are dearer but some are not. For example, chicken egg and pork prices are lower than last April, but Chavanond did not mention that. Meanwhile, cowpeas are selling for Bt80 per kilogram this month but Chavanond compared them with last April’s record.
“I dare the Democrat Party to clarify with real facts what kinds of goods are more expensive than last April. The prime minister has tried to explain that the cost of raw materials started to go up in the middle of last year. Together with rising energy prices, restaurants then adjusted their prices. And in practice, the prices of cooked food do not move up in trifling steps like Bt1 or B2, but usually Bt5 or Bt10,” he said.
“Prices are not going down as retailers are not confident that the costs of most raw materials will decline. The Commerce Ministry is trying to prepare more measures to regulate that, such as by selling 30,000 tonnes of the government’s packed rice to food vendors at a low price and presenting price information for the government to digest and solve the cost of living problems,” he said.
High food prices can affect inflation, but as long as inflation is at the level of 3-4 per cent, it is suitable considering the growth of gross domestic product at 6.5-7 per cent. Thailand’s inflation is considered low compared with other countries in Asean.
The commerce minister will host a meeting of ministries’ administrators, chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, at which price problems might be discussed, he added.