Thailand: State keeping a tab on We Win retailers

The government has been keeping a close eye on low-priced Blue Flag stores and other retail outlets that joined the Rao Chana (We Win) financial relief scheme, threatening to revoke their right to participate and file legal action against them if they are found to have taken advantage of the scheme by unfairly raising the prices of products.

Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department under the Commerce Ministry, said the department has already assigned officials to speed up inspections of shops and merchants after people complained of unreasonable hikes in the prices charged by stores participating in the government-sponsored scheme.

Mr Wattanasak also said the department has been monitoring the prices of consumer products in general and had only found the price of palm oil for cooking increased, which was due to the higher price of the raw material used to produce the oil.

The domestic price of fresh palm nuts had risen sharply to 7 baht per kilogramme late 2020 from 3-3.50 baht per kg in the middle of the year.

The higher price of palm nuts had lead to an increase in the price of domestic palm oil to 46-48 baht per litre at present, up from 35 baht per litre in the middle of 2020.

However, he said such an impact was expected to be short-lived while the department has pledged to cooperate with manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers to maintain the retail price of palm oil at its current level.

Fresh palm nut production will resume its normal supply from next month.

In February 2020, the Internal Trade Department revoked ceiling prices imposed on bottled palm oil at 42 baht and soybean cooking palm oil at 55 baht to reflect real costs.

Mr Wattanasak said all shops must clearly display price tags, adding the department is set to exercise Section 29 of the Prices of Goods and Services Act to file legal action against merchants if they are found to sell unreasonably expensive products.