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Ministry to keep a close watch on retails prices

Worrying about price gouging during the upcoming New Year festivities, the Commerce Ministry has launched three measures to protect consumers from unfair practices by traders and manufacturers.

Special task forces will be dispatched to check prices at retail shops and travel centres such as bus terminals, train stations and airports.

Second, teams will inspect gift baskets at supermarkets and other retail shops for ensure goods quality, fair prices, and expiry dates.

Finally, the ministry plans to hold a low-price fair as a strategy to help reduce the cost of living and stimulate spending.

Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said the ministry would closely monitor prices as it was afraid some unscrupulous traders would jack them up during the New Year celebrations.

"The Thai economy is still very fragile because of the uncertain political situation. The ministry will ensure that consumers are not victimised by high prices along with the slowdown of the economy," Yanyong said.

He added that the ministry's low-price fair should also help stimulate economic growth in the final quarter of the year as many local enterprises and consumer-goods manufacturers, such as One Tambon One Product (Otop) producers, would be able to trade at the fair.

The ministry is still working out details of the fair. It will be held late this month and early in the new year under the theme of "Thailand Grand Sale".

Meanwhile, any traders found to be raising their prices unfairly to exploit the New Year festival will be punished under the Goods and Service Prices Act with fines up to Bt140,000, and/or seven years in jail.

As for next year, Yanyong said enterprises should not yet increase their prices as the economy had been hit by both internal and external factors. Goods manufacturers should try to freeze their prices as production costs and wages would likely be unchanged next year, he added.


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