Thailand: Low-cost goods scheme to start in April
The government says it will make low-cost consumer goods available via small retail outlets and at retail and wholesale shops by April.
Deputy Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the ministry has asked leading local manufacturers such as Saha Group, Unilever and ThaiBev to produce 20 items that are essential for daily use, including soap, toothpaste, detergent and shampoo. Under the Thong Fah (Blue Flag) low-cost scheme, such products with discounts of 15-20% will provide a non-branded option for low-income earners.
The outlets selling the low-cost products should be located in the areas that are easily accessible to consumers, while manufacturers and retailers, as well as wholesalers, have already agreed to cooperate with the government sector in making and distributing the goods, said Mr Sontirat.
Currently, there are an estimated 19,000 small retail and wholesale outlets located in various communities nationwide.
Mr Sontirat said the low-cost products will not be distributed through existing modern trade outlets such as 7-Eleven.
The ministry will call another meeting with all manufacturers next week to thresh out issues such as production volumes and distribution spots, he said.
Retail and wholesale businesses now 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, after the service sector (32.6%) and manufacturing (27.7%).
Mr Sontirat said the government will also continue the mobile Thong Fa scheme that sells low-priced products in densely-populated communities.
It is further committed to doubling the number of low-cost food outlets to 20,000 this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak also ordered senior-ranking Commerce Ministry officials on Wednesday to closely monitor global oil prices to prevent any negative effects on the cost of living.
At the meeting, the Commerce Ministry also pledged to reestablish a war room to closely monitor product price movements and report the price situation on a daily basis.
The ministry has threatened to harshly punish profiteers, especially those operating in flood-affected areas, and strictly inspect the production cost structure of manufacturers.
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.
Earlier at Tuesday’s meeting, the cabinet also agreed to raise the number of product and service items on the state price control list to 47 this year from 45.
The government has added delivery charges for online shopping and counter service to the list of expenditures that need special supervision by state officials.
The number of products in the price control list will stay unchanged at 42, but two more service items are added to the three service items on the list due to growing usage.
The three service items already on the list are commercial music copyright usage, storage and warehousing services, and agricultural services.
The price control list covers essential items for daily use such as food, consumer products, farm-related products (fertilisers, pesticides, animal feed, tractors, rice harvesters), construction materials, paper, petroleum and medicines.
Listed foods include garlic, paddy, milled rice, corn, eggs, cassava, wheat flour, yoghurt, powdered/fresh milk, sugar, vegetable/animal oil and pork. Consumer products include detergents, sanitary napkins and toilet paper.