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Shortages of staples looms in Thailand

Anasuya Sanyal for  Channel News Asia : Thailand faces shortages of staples as the global cost of food skyrockets; the country faces shortages of cooking oil and sugar due to government price controls and hoarding.

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Thailand faces shortages of staples as the global cost of food skyrockets; the country faces shortages of cooking oil and sugar due to government price controls and hoarding., writes Anasuya Sanyal for Channel News Asia


The price of palm oil, the country’s most popular cooking medium, and a main ingredient in other items from soap to shortening, has increased 40 per cent.

Price controls on 20 basic household products will expire at the end of the month, pushing prices up 10 to 15 per cent.

Somporn Thapanachai in an op-ed in the Bangkok Post further explains how we got a palm oil shortage:

It has been over a year already that the Abhisit government has claimed to have excellent control over pricing of consumer goods. The government always boasts about its success in “seeking cooperation” from the private sector to keep prices unchanged. The announcement comes around every three months – the duration the government asks (read: forces) the private sector to maintain prices so politicians can say that they have done their best for the public’s benefit.

Personally, I have no belief that this extreme price maintaining policy will bring true benefits, or be sustainable in the long term. Let’s take a look at the cooking palm oil, the most consumed vegetable oil in this country, especially in all food shops.

Capping the price at 38 baht for a one-litre bottle for over a year sounded good to consumers who enjoyed paying less. However, the producers became more uncomfortable as the days passed due to rising costs of raw materials and the trend of increasing global prices. The producers requested a price increase several times, with no positive response as politicians were afraid of not being “loved” by their voters.

…/…

Let’s try to think about solving the same problem in another scenario. If palm oil producers were allowed to increase their prices by 1-2 baht gradually over one year, the price consumers would be paying today would be the same. The difference is that people would not be in a panic, there would be no hoarding of cooking oil and food prices might not have increased as much.

New AC blogger Dan Waites explains how the politicians did it – worth reading the post in full.


Read more here:
What is happening with palm oil in Thailand?

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