New items tipped for price control list

Despite growing pressure from the weakening baht, consumer prices are expected to remain stable in the first quarter as operators and vendors retain adequate inventory to handle demand.

But the Commerce Ministry says the baht's continued weakness may prompt a surge in prices of certain products.

It plans to add items such as liquid soap, shampoo and fabric softener to its price control list.

Santichai Santawanpas, deputy director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said officials have been closely monitoring factors including fuel and electricity costs that could affect goods prices but have found no serious effects.

Nonetheless, operators and vendors could cite those factors and the weaker baht as an excuse to raise goods prices.

"The department will keep an eye on how long the baht falls," Mr Santichai said yesterday, adding that a weak baht may result in higher costs for products based on imported raw materials.

He said a weaker baht is unlikely to deliver a sudden impact to prices of such products, as most operators and vendors carry one or two months' worth of stock.

The department has ordered makers of certain products including herbicides and animal feed to cut prices by 5-10% after production costs were found to be lower.

Regarding a recent request by cooking-oil makers to raise the price of palm oil from 42 baht per one-litre bottle due to higher palm nut prices, Mr Santichai said the decision has yet to be made and rests with a subcommittee to meet next Wednesday.

In related news, the department is preparing to review its price control list to see which items should be removed or added before submitting the revisions to a central committee for consideration this month.

The list now contains 43 items, all of which are essential for daily use.

New items will likely include mobiles and information technology gadgets.

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