Five firms to make 48 low-cost consumer items

Low-priced consumer products under the state’s Pracha Rat scheme are offered at a grocery shop.

Five leading manufacturers have reached an agreement with the government to make and supply 48 consumer items at low cost.

The products will be 15-20% cheaper than those being sold now.

Cheaply priced consumer goods under the Thong Fah (Blue Flag) Pracha Rat scheme will be made available first via 5,500 small retail outlets and at retail and wholesale shops by April.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said after April the scheme aims to cover 20,000 outlets over the next six months and reduce people’s cost of living by 1.2 billion baht a year.

The five suppliers are Sahapattanapibul Plc, Unilever Thai Trading Ltd, Colgate-Palmolive Thailand, Proctor & Gamble Trading Thailand, and Berli Jucker Plc.

Mrs Apiradi said the manufacturers already make and are ready to supply 18 of the 48 items, which are mostly for daily use such as soap, toothpaste, detergent, shampoo, canned fish and instant noodles.

The low-cost products will not be distributed through existing modern trade outlets such as 7-Eleven.

Retail and wholesale businesses account for 27.5% of the country’s employment or 2.9 million people, second only to the service sector. The sector accounts for 13.9% of GDP, trailing the service sector (32.6%) and manufacturing (27.7%).

“The Thong Fah scheme will be kept as a permanent project, made available mainly via the small outlets located in areas that are easily accessible to consumers,” she said.

Mrs Apiradi said the initial project will see 5,000 of the 20,000 total outlets promoted by the Business Development Department and 500 outlets of the 19,000 promoted by the National Village and Urban Community Fund sell the cheap products.

The ministry will continue to promote the mobile Thong Fah scheme in densely populated communities.

The ministry is committed to doubling the number of low-cost food outlets to 20,000 this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak ordered senior Commerce Ministry officials at a joint meeting in January to monitor closely global oil prices to prevent any negative effects on consumers’ cost of living. At the meeting, the ministry also pledged to reestablish a war room to closely monitor product price movements and report on prices on a daily basis.

The ministry has threatened harsh punishment for profiteers, especially those operating in flood-affected areas, and strictly inspect the production cost structure of manufacturers.

Under the Price of Goods and Services Act, any traders found selling goods or services at prices higher than the reference prices will be subject to seven years imprisonment, a fine of up to 140,000 baht, or both.

Vendors that do not display prices on labels will be subject to a fine of up to 10,000 baht.

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