Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has warned food vendors to stop ripping off consumers by using higher cooking gas prices as an excuse

imagesPrime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has warned food vendors to stop ripping off consumers by using higher cooking gas prices as an excuse.

Addressing the public in his weekly broadcast address on Friday, Gen Prayut said a small increase in the gas price should not translate into higher charges for khao kaeng. He warned vendors that the Commerce Ministry will be watching them.

« I have been hearing about prices of fast dishes being raised by 10 baht or 15 baht. This cannot be, » he said. « How can you raise the food price by 5 baht when the gas price has only risen by 50 satang? »

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices have been heavily subsidised for more than a decade but the government has begun gradually raising the prices to reduce its financial burden.

The prime minister said steep increases in food prices were unfair and the practice should be corrected to help people. He also offered vendors a solution.

« Trying to sell more at lower prices is better than selling less at higher prices, » he suggested.

« The middleman should also refrain from exploiting others and should make some compromises about profits so the public will not be troubled, » the former army chief added.

Gen Prayut also offered a tip to buyers, as well. « Please reconsider eating at places that overcharge, » he said.

Food-stall strategy was one of many topics the general touched on in his 50-minute address. He also spoke at length about the work of the new 36-member Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), which was named this week.

Gen Prayut promised that the next constitution, the 20th the country has had since 1932, would be different. Previous charters, he said, were written based on distrust of previous administrations. The new charter will be drafted to protect the public and national interest, he added.

« The new charter must be people-oriented, fair, thorough, transparent and most importantly effective, » he said, while urging critics to remain silent since « not even one line has been written. »

He did not say whether the public would be allowed to vote on the new constitution, which must be completed by next September before elections can be organised.

The formation of the CDC faced criticism after the National Reform Council (NRC) voted against allotting five out of its 20-seat quota for outsiders to join.

The CDC, with 33 men and three women, also has five members nominated by the cabinet, another five from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and five more from the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). The NCPO hand-picked the chairman, Borwornsak Uwanno, who is also an NLA vice-president and secretary-general of King Prajadhipok’s Institute.

Gen Prayut, who is also the NCPO chairman, defended the process, saying that the charter drafting forum was open to all, but politicians decided not to join due to a condition that they would have to abstain from politics for two years if they sit on the panel.

« However, the government and drafting committee will try to get all sides involved in the drafting process as much as possible, » he said.

The prime minister also cautioned teachers not to put themselves in a position to disrupt attempts to reconcile all political camps in a campaign undertaken by the armed forces, the NCPO and other agencies.

« On this occasion, I would like to ask all the teachers to refrain from making comments influencing political conflicts, » he said.

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