Officials on lookout for post-tariff hoarding, cheating by businesses

Economy September 15, 2017 01:00


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THE COMMERCE Ministry will join forces with the Finance Ministry to look out for hoarding and overpriced products after new excise tariffs go into effect tomorrow.

A source from the Department of Internal Trade said liquor and cigarettes must be closely monitored for hoarding, but the Commerce Ministry does not have the legal authority to inspect the goods.

Monitoring, inspecting and supervising hoarding are limited to controlled goods according to Article 30, which stipulates that persons are prohibited from hoarding controlled goods, the source said. 

Finance officials will be roped in to monitor goods possibly kept for distribution after tomorrow, when the new excise rates take effect.

To prevent shops from seizing the opportunity to keep goods for later distribution after that date, the Commerce Ministry has teamed up with the Finance Ministry to inspect goods taxed at the previous rates and those levied with the new rates.

Those arrested for hoarding must provide evidence for each lot of goods in their possession, based on Article 29 involving prices of products and services and penalties for those caught with overpriced trade.

Punishment is imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Bt140,000 or both.

Both ministries are asking consumers to alert them to any suspicious department stores or shops for further inspection.

“The Department of Internal Trade’s laws involve supervision of controlled goods, as some traders may grab the chance to sell goods at higher prices after September 16,” the source said. 

The actual cost of liquor and cigarettes must be clearly proven with the sources of products before proceeding with legal action.

Sontirat Sontjirawong, deputy commerce minister, said both ministries are coordinating their approach to inspections and taking legal measures, recognising the need to prevent some shops from taking advantage of people or selling them overpriced products.

Even though liquor and cigarettes are not categorised as controlled goods, state agencies like the Commerce Ministry have the authority to supervise products to ensure they are sold fairly, Sontirat said. 

Commerce officials have been assigned to follow up complaints and to proactively seek out unfair practices. Consumer complaints to the Commerce Ministry will be investigated, he said.