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Economy May 23, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

Price control stays amid martial law

The Internal Trade Department insisted yesterday that prices of food and consumer goods are still being controlled by the Commerce Ministry despite martial law.
Director-general Somchart Soithong said yesterday that the department is closely monitoring prices at present. If any traders unfairly raise prices, they could be subject to seven years in jail and/or a Bt140,000 fine. 
If any traders hoard goods for no reason, they would also be subject to five years in jail and/or Bt200,000 fine.
Only powdered milk producers have asked to hike retail prices because they face higher import costs, but the department has not yet allowed them to. It asked them to study carefully their cost structure to ensure a low cost of living.
CPN sticks to target 
Shopping centre operator Central Pattana Plc is keeping its 15-per-cent growth target for this year intact for now, despite martial law.
“We cannot evaluate any possible impact caused by the current political difficulty at this moment. We will track visitor traffic at our shopping centres on a monthly basis and the latest assessment will come out by the end of this month,” Naparat Sriwanvit, chief financial officer of CPN, said yesterday.
The company last year posted Bt19.9 billion in revenues, of which 89 per cent came from leasing space at its shopping malls, 2 per cent from leasing office space, 4 per cent from operating food businesses and 4 per cent from operating hotels.
CPN had set its growth rate at 15 per cent annually throughout the next five years. The company has set aside a capital expenditure budget of Bt15 billion this year, of which Bt11 billion will come from its cash on hand and Bt8 billion from its property fund. 
The capex budget will be allocated to developing five shopping malls in Thailand and one in Malaysia, which will open in the fourth quarter of 2016, and renovating existing malls.
The CentralPlaza Salaya will open in August, CentralPlaza Rayong and Central Gateway in the second quarter of next year, Central Festival East Ville in the fourth quarter of next year and CentralPlaza Nakhon Ratchasima in the second quarter of 2016. 
Fetco backs talks 
The Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations supports the high-level negotiations under martial law to end the political conflict.
Fetco also agrees with the idea of having a new, fully-functioning government. 
Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, CEO of Tisco Securities and president of Fetco, said yesterday that the federation raised its support for the negotiation process to be held under the Peace and Order Maintaining Command. 
It is the first discussion by all parties to the political conflict. The aim was to bring the country back to the normal peaceful situation and to form a new government with full power to continue running the country and to solve all problems, such as investment promotion and assistance for grassroots people and SMEs.