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Ministry seeks end to downsizing trick

THE COMMERCE MINISTRY'S Internal Trade Department will soon call for a meeting with toothpaste, shampoo, soap, detergent and drinking-water producers to set up a standard on goods sizes after finding that some companies have downsized their products to reduce costs - while maintaining the original retail prices.

Such a practice has added to consumers' living costs, even though the government has imposed price controls on these and other essential goods.

Somchart Soithong, director-general of the department, yesterday said the agency would discuss with consumer-goods manufacturers the establishment of a product-quantity standard to prevent consumers getting less for their money as a result of such tricks.

The department aims to set up a quantity standard alongside its price controls to ensure that consumers are not cheated by producers in this way, he said.

Since price controls were introduced, the department has found that while some manufacturers did not increase prices, they instead downsized the quantity of goods per package so as to offset higher costs - and thus indirectly increased the prices of the items in question.

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Most consumer complaints concern shampoo, soap, toothpaste, detergent and drinking water.

If producers continue to get around price controls by downsizing their products, the department will consider enforcing stringent laws to punish them, he warned.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to ensure that consumers are not overcharged during the Songkran Festival, the department has sent special teams to inspect prices at tourist attractions, bus terminals and train stations around the country, said the agency chief.

During a survey yesterday at Bangkok's Mo Chit bus terminal, the department found prices were still under control and the public was not being overcharged. Fast-food dishes cost between Bt30 and Bt40, in accordance with its controls.

In a related development, the department reported that the country still had an adequate supply of palm oil and that there was no need for imports.

Palm-oil supply has reached 1.24 million tonnes, some 140,000-150,000 tonnes higher than usual demand.

Prices should decrease in the near future, he said.

To increase palm-oil price sustainability, the Commerce Ministry has written to the Energy Ministry proposing accelerated use of B7 biodiesel instead of B4, he added.


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