The Commerce Ministry announced that it had set up a special national hotline that allows people to file complaints about unnecessarily high prices on basic necessities.
Authorities have launched the 1569 hotline in response to complaints regarding overcharges for basic products.
The ministry also warned shopkeepers that they could be fined 140,000 baht or face over seven years behind bars if they take undue advantage of consumers and overcharge for basic necessities, especially in areas hit by natural disasters.
The move comes as many Thailand provinces face severe flooding, forcing residents to buy supplies to clean or repair their homes and non-perishable food to deal with the consequences.
On Sunday, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told reporters that the ministry seeks to help ease the burden on people in affected districts.
Besides guaranteeing access to necessities by making them available at affordable prices, the ministry will also ensure that people can buy other necessary products. They include construction tools and cleaning equipment to repair their homes once the flooding and water levels recede.
Mr. Jurin explained that provincial governors and other state agencies are responsible for actions in response to heavy floods.
However, people can ask the Commerce Ministry for help if they are forced to pay unnecessarily high prices for necessities, he added.
“Dealing with floods is actually the responsibility of the Interior Ministry with cooperation from provincial governors, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and other state agencies,” the minister stated.
“But if people find themselves having to pay unnecessarily high prices, then they can file a complaint via the 1569 hotline, which has been set up by the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Internal Trade,” he went on.
It’s not the first time that authorities have addressed issues related to shop owners who overcharge for basic products.
In March 2020, the Commerce Minister filed a complaint against online retailer Lazada over excessively high prices for masks and other essential items charged by its suppliers.