The cabinet decided to implement 10 measures to ease the burden on home and micro-business owners following an increase in the cost of living caused by rising fuel prices.
While the government’s response has been welcomed and seen as necessary to ease the difficulties, many say these measures, which won’t take effect until next month and will only last until the end of July, are not enough to help them maintain the price runaway pace. .
Several consumer and retail groups are urging the government to put money in their pockets now by implementing a fifth phase of Khon La Khrueng, the state-sponsored co-pay subsidy scheme, and fixing the prices of essential goods and services to protect low-income people due to financial pressure.
grease the wheels
Thaniwan Kulmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurant Association, said people are facing a revenue freeze during this difficult time, but will still have to bear the added costs of disease control measures such as face masks, hand sanitizer and antigen test kits.
Ms. Thaniwan said that small-scale street food vendors, of which there are an estimated 90,000, are part of the grassroots economy and the government must do everything it can to help them survive.
Prices of consumer goods rise as energy prices (fuel, cooking gas, and electricity bills) rise, and the 10 measures will help to some extent, he said.
However, launching an additional fifth phase of Khon La Khrueng’s copay scheme is what the government should focus on in addition to relief measures, Ms Thaniwan said.
The scheme, in which the government subsidizes 50% of food, drink and general item purchases for participants, with the total subsidy capped at 150 baht per person per day, will help both vendors and the general public.
Micro-business owners reported poor sales after each phase of the scheme ended, he said.
Ms Thaniwan said she expects more fuel or electricity subsidies from the government and wondered if energy companies such as PTT Plc could be persuaded to cut their profit margins for a while to help households keep energy bills down. energy under control.
“People are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Costs have increased, so sellers have to raise their prices, which drives customers away. Meanwhile, salaries remain the same, as does purchasing power.
“How can we survive this? Another phase of Khon La Khrueng can help a lot, especially for small food retailers and vendors,” he said.
Yada Pornphetrampa, who represents street vendors and street food vendors, said many are unimpressed by the government’s response because they are struggling with the cost of living, but the 10 measures won’t start until next month.
Some people also feel the package is geared towards car and motorcycle taxis, he said, referring to a price guarantee of 13.62 baht per kilogram of natural gas for taxi drivers under the Lom Hai Jai Diow Gun (Breathe Together) and a gasohol relief payment. 250 baht per month for 157,000 motorcycle drivers registered with the Department of Land Transport.
According to Ms Yada, direct cash donations are what the public urgently needs at a time of financial trouble, and schemes like Khon La Khrueng increase purchasing power and “grease the wheels” of the economy.
The government will have to regulate the price of necessary goods and make it really possible for low-income people to access loans, he said.
He added that despite the soft loan projects of state banks, some conditions prevent many households from accessing financial assistance.
“Little people don’t have many opportunities to make a living. They don’t have the capital. His savings dried up during covid-19,” she said.
Since Covid-19 will be classified as an endemic disease, the government should also consider allowing night entertainment venues to reopen, Yada said.
Control the prices of goods
Rewat Chobtham of the Thai Street Vendors Network for Sustainable Development said that while the new measures are better than nothing, many street vendors are still left out as only 10% have state welfare cards.
The government should make cheaper fuel available, especially cooking gas, which is a necessity for every household. Regarding the discount on the electricity bill, he said that the relief measure is for households that do not use air conditioning.
“The measures benefit limited groups of people, while the majority of people who also have difficulties are excluded,” he said.
He said keeping the price of essential goods down and providing markets for sellers will help them fend for themselves and reduce the financial burden on the government.
Chalerm Changthongmadan, president of the Motorcycle Taxi Association, said the measures are not sustainable and the government needs to do more to control the prices of essential goods.
“A gasohol relief payment of 250 baht per month is about 8-9 baht per day when our food expenses are around 180 baht, which doesn’t include 120 baht to refill the tanks. It barely helps,” he said.
Chalerm suggested that fuel cards worth 5,000 baht for three months would help cash-strapped motorcyclists.
The government could also promote the use of electric motorcycles by lowering prices, which are double that of regular vehicles running on fossil fuels, he said.
“I would also recommend zero down payments. Electric vehicles will lower costs and are good for the environment,” he said.
Sadit Jaithiang, chairman of the Thailand Public Taxi Association, said allowing taxis to raise fares would help his group more effectively. The last time the fee was raised was in 1992.
The taxi fare for the first 10 kilometers should be increased to 7 baht per kilometer, from 5.50 baht now, along with the initial fare of 35 baht, he said, adding that taxi drivers need more than temporary relief measures.
“The government is concerned about the cost of living for people. What about taxi drivers and their families?” he said.
Udom Homsap, a 60-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, said fuel costs have doubled and he now has to pay around 120 baht to fill up the tanks. The monthly allowance of a 250 baht gasohol relief payment will help lighten the load.
Opas Khlai-udom, 56, a tuk-tuk driver, said his daily income has fallen from 800-1,000 baht to around 200 baht and he feels lucky if he earns 300 baht these days. In fact, some of his colleagues are working two or three jobs to make ends meet, while many have returned to their home provinces, he said.
“What I want to ask is ‘please don’t increase the price of goods’. We are barely getting by,” he said.
Supaporn Prasomsamai, 42, a food vendor, said her income has dropped by more than 80% and there is no way the 100 baht monthly aid stipend for street vendors is enough to help.
“I am not asking for help, but it is better that the government gets out of this situation. It is our children who have to pay back the loans that it has obtained and those loans do not make any difference to providers like us,” he said. she said.
Nipawan Sriprayoon, 53, another vendor, said all costs are rising, particularly cooking gas and fuel for her motorcycle, but she cannot afford to raise prices because her customers are also struggling financially.
She said the cooking gas stipend for vendors should be around 200-250 baht, noting that she sees many people with state welfare cards wearing gold and that many Khon La Khrueng participants have been state officials. .
“Small-time vendors are out in the cold,” he said.