The Commerce Ministry has agreed to set up a working committee to manage a balance between the sugar cane and sugar industries, aiming to placate angry cane farmers following the government's decision to regulate domestic sugar prices.
Speaking after meeting with four sugar cane farmer organisations, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said the working committee would be chaired by Yanyong Phuangrach, a former commerce permanent secretary who serves as his consultant, with representatives from sugar cane farmers and relevant state agencies such as the Foreign Trade Department and the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board.
The committee is expected to craft a suitable solution within one month, before the start of the new harvest season.
Mr Phumtham said the decision by the Central Committee on the Prices of Goods and Services to declare sugar a controlled product remains valid, but the ministry is ready to revoke the announcement if appropriate conclusions and solutions are reached.
"The government is not concerned about losing face, instead prioritising solutions that benefit the people. We want to ensure the country's maximum advantage," he said.
In a related development, Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said yesterday the Commerce Ministry directed provincial commerce officials to examine inventories in sugar factories, markets and stores across the country to combat hoarding and curb illicit sugar exports.
Following the decision to declare sugar a controlled product, he said sugar is being sold at controlled retail prices in the Bangkok metropolitan region and surrounding areas.
The retail price of granulated sugar is 24 baht per kilogramme, while the price of refined sugar is quoted at 25 baht per kg.
However, this price control does not include sugar cubes, sachets not exceeding 10 grammes each, or packages in boxes or other containers, or bottled or boxed sugar.
Mr Wattanasak said there is sufficient sugar stock to meet public demand.