State to let some prices rise, minister concedes

State to let some prices rise, minister concedes

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has admitted that certain products will be allowed to increase their prices because of higher oil costs, which directly affect production costs and transport fees.

However, he pledged the ministry will try its best to supervise and maintain consumer goods prices to ensure a minimal impact on consumers, saying the approval for any price hike will be primarily based on the ex-factory prices.

According to Mr Jurin, the ministry will work in a supervisory role to ensure only a minimal impact on farmers whose products now fetch relatively high prices, such as rubber, oil palm, maize, tapioca and rice.

He said rice in particular has promising prospects this year, with exports expected to reach 7-8 million tonnes, up from 6.1 million tonnes last year.

Mr Jurin said the ministry also vowed to maintain the price of cooking palm oil at 66.50 baht per bottle as long as possible to prevent any impact on consumers.

However, the price in some areas may increase because of transport costs, he conceded.

Cooking palm oil prices have sharply risen, driven mainly by an increase in the price of fresh palm nuts, which have shot up to 10-12 baht per kilogramme, three times higher than the state-guaranteed price of 4 baht per kg that is paid to farmers.

Based on higher production costs, domestic cooking palm oil prices should be raised to 76.50 baht per bottle.

In a move to prevent a possible cooking palm oil shortage and ensure sufficient supply in the country, a subcommittee has been established to supervise palm oil exports.

The subcommittee comprises representatives from farmers, palm oil crushing factories and cooking palm oil factories.

"Domestic consumption is a priority," said Mr Jurin.

"Exports can be allowed only once the crude palm oil stock is more than sufficient for domestic consumption. The government needs to strike a balance between exports and domestic consumption."

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