A public outcry over the rising prices of consumer goods prompted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to defend his government’s policies which, he claimed, were better suited to dealing with the economic crisis than many other countries.
Gen Prayut told assembled media at Government House on Friday that the coalition has been working continually to implement measures that both help people afford rising prices and also encourage and support those manufacturers who have been threatening to increase the prices of consumer goods due to high fuel costs and transport fees.
However, a responsible government must also take into consideration the limits of its financial resources to show due prudence, he added.
“The government has not become complacent… Related agencies must present measures for consideration by the prime minister. I told them to think of the best ways to ease people’s plight. But it is now impossible to give them 100% assistance as before,” Gen Prayut said.
“Many have criticised the government for failing to solve problems. They should look at other countries, which have not been as good at tackling problems as us. We are doing better but some are still not satisfied.
“The problem is we are working on a limited budget. We must think of how to avoid creating a financial burden in the future,” Gen Prayut said, adding that many policies may need to be altered to respond to the changing circumstances.
“If I have the chance to stay on and carry on with the work, I will have to rethink the problems [and solutions], particularly those related to inequality, people’s income and careers. Today, Covid-19 has disrupted the original plans of action, and we have had to deal with many problems at the same time, which required a huge budget,” he said.
Gen Prayut also urged business operators not to charge excessive prices for their goods, saying price increases should be in line with inflation and production costs.
“You cannot seek big profits like before. Today, you have to help the country and the government,” the prime minister said.
Sakkapop Panyanukul, senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s (BoT) economic and policy department, said that the Thai baht has depreciated 2.5% against the dollar since the beginning of the year — its lowest value in five years — which has benefited exporters.
However, any benefits from this will soon be offset by rising import prices should it trend further downwards and put pressure on inflation, he said.
Mr Sakkapop said, adding that the BoT was monitoring the inflation situation closely, and the inflation rate is expected to rise more than 5% in the second and third quarters before going down in the fourth quarter, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the ministry is trying its best to maintain retail price caps on 18 categories of key consumer goods and reiterated that the ministry has not approved a hike in prices for the essentials, which include instant noodles.
Meanwhile, the committee managing the Oil Fuel Fund on Thursday approved a proposal to raise the diesel price cap from 30 baht per litre to 32 baht from Saturday.
Ekkachai Songamnartcharoen, a Pheu Thai Party MP, said the government’s decision to raise the diesel price cap will inevitably lead to higher prices of goods and services, which will hit people on low incomes and farmers the hardest.
He urged the government to increase their minimum daily wage as a gift on Labour Day.