Vendors warned on mask price
The Commerce Ministry on Thursday warned that vendors who sell face masks at a price higher than the fixed 2.5 baht per item face a jail term of five years and/or a fine of 100,000 baht.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit approved the price cap of 2.5 baht on domestically-made masks announced by the Central Committee on Goods and Service Prices.
The regulation does not apply to old stocks, which retailers must clear by Sunday.
"From Monday, all surgical face masks must be sold at 2.5 baht apiece, with violators liable to jail time and/or fines," said Mr Jurin, who also chairs the committee.
Face mask importers are obliged to declare their import costs to the Department of Internal Trade (DIT), he added. He said the mark-up on the import price must not exceed 60%.
On Feb 21, Mr Jurin approved an announcement by his committee banning the export of face masks. The committee on Feb 3 included face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitisers on the price control list.
Manufacturers, distributors, exporters and importers of items on the list are required to notify the DIT of production costs, prices, production volume, export/import volume and inventory.
Prior approval from the department is needed to export more than 500 items.
Mr Jurin said there are currently 11 factories with a combined daily production capacity of 1.2 million face masks, down from 1.35 million.
The ministry is now upgrading management systems as the DIT centre will take full control of distribution of masks, with 700,000 to be handed to the Public Health Ministry, state-run hospitals and private hospitals, and another 500,000 to members of the public through various retail outlets, he said.
A total of 111 trucks will be also deployed to sell 300,000 masks per day around the country, Mr Jurin said.
Whichai Phochanakij, DIT director-general, said manufacturers have reported that each face mask costs 3-4 baht to produce, but they have to sell the masks to the DIT at 2 baht apiece.
He will ask today's meeting of economic ministers to approve a budget to help the manufacturers, he said.