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Commerce Ministry prepares for mobile operations

THE COMMERCE Ministry has instructed its officials to prepare for mobile working, while setting up a "war room" in Ayutthaya, as an emergency plan in response to the "Bangkok shutdown" from this coming Monday.

Permanent secretary Srirat Rastapana yesterday called for an urgent meeting with high-level officials of the ministry to prepare for the effects of the latest move by anti-government protesters amid rising tension in the political conflict.

The decision to set up a war room has been taken to ensure the safety of officials and protect the ministry from activists seeking to seal it off, she said.

Srirat ordered top-level officials - the director-general, deputy director-general and director of each of each of the Commerce Ministry's departments and bureaus - to move some work to the office of the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand, which is located in Bang Sai district, in Ayutthaya province, to ensure that key work continued to be conducted smoothly during the upcoming siege of the capital.

For general officials, the ministry has instructed them to save information and work from home or other office locations.

Somchart Soithong, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the branch offices of the ministry would remain open as normal.

The Foreign Trade Department announced that it would open offices for import-export certification providers in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district and at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Meanwhile, the Internal Trade Department acknowledged that supplies of some consumer goods and foods would be inadequate in some key areas sealed off by anti-government protesters during any prolonged siege, as it would cause transportation difficulties.

Somchart said stocks of goods and foods should, however, be adequate if the Bangkok shutdown is not prolonged.

To ensure adequate supplies and unchanged prices, the department will start to inspect retail shops, fresh markets and modern traders in metropolitan Bangkok from tomorrow, he said, adding that the inspection taskforce would operate every day until the siege was over.

The inspections will ensure prices remain stable, and that traders do not take advantage of the situation to increase prices and hurt consumers, he said.

In addition, the price of cooking oil will be maintained at Bt42 per litre bottle, despite a supply shortage during the current end of the oil-palm harvest season.

The department chief said palm-fruit production would be increased in the next two months, but in the meantime the current stockpiles should ensure that the price of cooking oil was kept in check.


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