Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fuel prices, fares frozen Food may be govt's next target to counter critics


The government has decided to freeze energy prices and fare increases for all kinds of transport and may impose price controls on food after being bombarded with complaints over the rising cost of living from many quarters.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has also ordered ministers to gear up the government's Took Tang Pandin (being cheap nationwide) street market festival to counter the Democrat Party which has labelled the rise in prices since the Yingluck government took office as paeng tang pandin (being expensive nationwide).
The Energy Policy Administration Committee yesterday resolved to put on hold planned increases in the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the transport sector for three months, said Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon, who chairs the committee.
The retail prices of LPG for the transport sector and CNG, which are due to increase on May 16, will remain capped at 21.83 baht per kilogramme and 10.50 baht/kg respectively.

Mr Arak said the meeting also agreed to maintain the current Oil Fund levy collections on octane 95 and 91 petrol at 4 baht a litre, gasohol 95 at 2.20 baht a litre, gasohol 91 at 60 satang a litre and diesel at 60 satang per litre.CNG prices have been allowed to gradually rise by 50 satang/kg a month and LPG for the transport sector has been allowed to increase by 75 satang/kg since January.
The committee will also discuss the possibility of cutting the fuel adjustment tariff (Ft) rate for May to August.
Any such moves still would have to go before the National Energy Policy Council and cabinet for final approval before May 16.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said the cabinet has authorised the ministry to ask the Bangkok Metro Company Plc (BMCL), the underground train operator, to delay planned fare increases, which are slated to take effect on July 3.
Under the subway operating concession, BMCL has the right to raise subway fares every two years, in line with the inflation rate. BMCL is authorised to increase its fares from a current range of 14 to 36 baht, depending on the distance, to 16 to 40 baht.
The prime minister yesterday also ordered state agencies to freeze fares on other kinds of transport systems.
Ms Yingluck yesterday told all ministries to accelerate identifying and securing areas for the Took Tang Pandin markets in various parts of the country.
The vendors will be allowed to occupy the areas free of charge to operate stalls under the campaign and sell goods at 20-40% below current market prices.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said the campaign will start on Friday in 10 districts of Bangkok and it will go nationwide over the next two months.
The ministry will seek cooperation from food centre operators in offices and department stores to provide alternative dishes for up to 30 baht each.
He said the ministry will speed up opening Took Jai shops that sell low-priced goods. It aims to have 1,000 such outlets in Bangkok and 2,000 in the provinces by the end of May.
It will also ask for cooperation from consumer goods producers to maintain prices for two to four months as the government develops measures to reduce their costs.
Government spokesman Anusorn Eiamsa-ard said recent market surveys by 11 ministers showed goods prices in provinces were quite low and that prices had surged in Bangkok.
The price of rambutan was 5 baht/kg in Kanchanaburi compared to 40 baht in the capital.
The ministers found the prices for pork, chicken and egg have fallen while those of vegetables have increased.