Ministry creates war rooms to handle essential goods
The Commerce Ministry has set up war rooms to supervise seven essential consumer goods and services sectors to curb any possible shortages and hoarding during the coronavirus outbreak.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the war rooms will monitor seven product and service items, including processed food, rice, ready-to-eat food such as instant noodles, drinking water, fruit juices, beverages, medical supplies and product transport, as well as home delivery services.
"The seven war rooms will have a meeting to monitor the situation about manufacturing, processing, trading, export and product distribution in new channels such as home delivery," Mr Jurin said after chairing a meeting of the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce. "The ministry is also ready to help eliminate businesses obstacles to them."
The war rooms were assigned to submit their strategic plans to ensure adequate goods supply to the joint committee over the next few days. Appropriate measures such as buffer stock requirements to ensure self-reliance may be needed.
According to Mr Jurin, the ministry is coordinating with the Transport Ministry to help relax regulations to expedite transport of goods from distribution centres to modern trade outlets to ensure that supermarket shelves have ample supplies.
Large trucks should also be allowed to distribute essential goods to consumers in the inner areas of Bangkok, he said.
The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to meet on Thursday with representatives of all modern trade outlets -- including supermarkets, department stores, home delivery operators and traditional retail shops -- to discuss problems and solutions.
Prasit Boondoungprasert, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand Foods, insisted that Thailand's livestock production is more than sufficient to cope with demand.
Chumpol Saichuer, president of the Thai Transportation and Logistics Association, said that in recent months heavy trucks were prohibited from entering certain inner areas of Bangkok at specified times, part of government measures to tackle air pollution.
The prohibition makes it inconvenient for goods transport to supermarkets in inner areas of the capital, he said.
Mr Chumpol also called for the government's support to prevent the spread of the virus to truck drivers.
"It'll be very dangerous if the truck drivers get infected, as this will pose a risk to all parties, and eventually end consumers," he said.