Govt to promote cheap food in Phuket
PHUKET: The Phuket office of the Department of Internal Trade (DIT) is preparing to designate 16 “Cheap Grocery Stores” across the island, as well as name “Blue Flag” restaurants – those providing cheap, quality food.
Wednesday 23 May 2012, 12:17PM
The projects are part of the government’s “solutions” to help alleviate the high cost of living on the island.
The 16 Cheap Grocery Stores will be selected from existing local groceries by the DIT and a Phuket subcommittee, which has been set up especially to solve problems related to the high cost of living.
The owners will each receive B9,000 a month from the government to help compensate for the extra expense they may incur in keeping the prices of their goods low.
The grocery and restaurant project was announced by the government in March, along with other initiatives such as a short-term Cheap Goods Expo.
However, the project has been widely criticised by Thai scholars, who say that the Cheap Grocery Stores will not solve the root causes of the high cost of living.
The Director of Dhurakij Pundit University Research Center (DPURC) in Bangkok, Dr Kiat-anan Luankeaw, told the Nation News Agency that only 5 to 10 per cent of people who suffer because of the high cost of living would benefit from designated Blue Flag restaurants.
“When one considers the cost of transport to the restaurants, and the time it takes consumers to get there, the total expense will not be much different from buying food in other restaurants,” said Dr Kiat-anan.
As for the Cheap Grocery Stores, Dr Kiat-anan is concerned that despite the artificially low prices, they still won’t be able to compete with mini-marts, which have better service, systems, and stock.
He believes the high cost of living is caused by ongoing inflation, the result of an increase in consumer purchasing power after the recent minimum wage increase. He adds that some sellers have used this opportunity to increase the price of their goods. Concern over future inflation has also affected prices.
Phuket Vice Governor Somkiat Sangkhaosutthirak said in a meeting at the DIT office on Tuesday (May 22) that he believed the high cost of living on the island was caused by the expensive price of land, which meant shop and restaurant owners had to pay more in rent or to buy property.
V/G Somkiat also commented on the large number of tourists, who in his opinion also contributed to high prices.