Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PM says price remarks 'twisted'

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is insisting she was misquoted last week over her comments on inflation and says she does not blame people for believing goods prices have gone up.
A vendor tells Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about retail rice prices at the Pichai food market in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi province Monday. She visited to survey food prices and listen to locals’ complaints about the cost of living. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
During her visit to the Pichai fresh market in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi province Monday, she said she was upset about reports of her saying that inflation was negligible and that people's perceptions were wrong.
Her eyes grew red when she said she felt hurt about news reports that she had said people's misperceptions were at fault for thinking that goods prices had surged. She had actually said that transport costs and seasonal fluctuations had made people feel product prices were higher than before.
At the fresh market Monday, many vendors told her that goods prices had indeed risen.
A vegetable vendor told her that the price of long beans had soared from 30 baht per kilogramme to 70 baht/kg and the price of A-grade long beans had reached 100 baht/kg.
A chicken egg vendor told the prime minister that the price of chicken eggs had also gone up, but this was because the heat had killed egg-laying chickens.
Ms Yingluck then said that her findings on goods prices at the market were in accordance with reports from the Commerce Ministry and that some products remained expensive but others were cheaper than a year ago.
Although opinion polls found that people were upset with economic stimulus attempts by her government, Ms Yingluck said she would not replace her economic ministers but would let them continue with their work.
To help consumers, the prime minister said she had ordered the Commerce Ministry to sell consumer products at discounts and set up markets without rent for vendors to sell cheaper products to consumers.
At the market in Nonthaburi, she bought vegetables, eggs and other products.
In Nakhon Ratchasima province, vendors are said to be planning to raise their pork prices by 20-30 baht/kg in the near future as pig breeders complained that the heat had reduced the appetite of pigs and thus impeded their growth.
The price of pork tenderloin recently climbed to 155 baht/kg from 135 baht, lean pork went up to 145 baht/kg from 125 baht, pork belly to 145 baht/kg from 120 baht, and minced pork to 145 baht/kg from 125 baht.
Kanyarat Kraiwattana, a pork vendor at the Mae Kim Heng market in Nakhon Ratchasima municipality, said that pork prices were about to rise further and she would reduce her supplies because consumers were cutting back on the meat.
Meanwhile, Yanyong Phuangrach, permanent secretary for commerce, insisted his ministry's consumer price index in April was reliable and said he would resign if the opposition Democrat Party could prove its accusation that the ministry had doctored the index to please the politicians in power.
He dismissed Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut's accusations that the index was altered to keep inflation in April at 2.5%.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra bought vegetables and eggs, and managed to survey most of the important market areas when she went price-shopping at the Pichai fresh market in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi province on Monday. (Reuters photo)
Ms Yingluck got lots of first-hand information on price rises from vendors throughout the market and then (below) emerged to brave the inevitable news ambush outside. (Photos above and below by Pattanapong Hirunard)