Officials to keep an eye on food prices
The Commerce Ministry pledges to shore up key farm products this year if their prices fall below targets set by the ministry.
Officials also vow to monitor food prices and service charges at restaurants to ensure fairness to consumers.
Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the department set target prices for seven agricultural products for factories: oil palm, dried coconut, eggs, shallots, onions, garlic and pineapples.
He said the department is set to introduce aid measures to help farmers if the prices of those products fall below targets.
The measures include linkage with fresh markets, agricultural central markets, magnet markets and roadside markets in every region to distribute products in oversupply and accelerate exports.
Mr Whichai said certain crops such as rice, corn and tapioca are expected to fetch higher prices this year, given higher demand from abroad.
The target prices are 3.30 baht per kilogramme for oil palm, 15 baht per kg for dried coconut, three baht per egg (ex-farm price), 14.29 baht per kg for shallots, 4.77 baht per kg for pineapple, 14.20 baht per kg for garlic and 10.09 baht per kg for onion.
Oil palm prices are now quoted at 2.90 baht per kg, with dried coconut fetching 11 baht per kg, eggs 2.60 baht each and pineapple 3.50 baht per kg.
The comparative prices of shallots, onion and garlic are not available, now that their output is being released onto the market.
In its best bid to maintain fair practices for consumers and farmers, the Internal Trade Department pledged to pay more attention to weights and measures inspection to prevent cheating.
The department will deregulate small weights tool controls and let local administrations oversee weights and measures in the provinces, while the department itself will oversee only big jobs such as weights for cars, rice paddy, tapioca and corn.
According to Mr Whichai, the department plans to talk with the Thai Restaurant Association about ensuring proper food prices and service charges nationwide, as complaints have mounted about unfair prices charged by restaurants.
He said the department is also accelerating efforts to put medical supplies and medical service charges on the price control list as part of efforts to deal with overcharging.
The department is scheduled to forward the proposal to the central committee on prices of goods and services. The panel is due to meet on Jan 9.