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Retailers overpricing face masks arrested

Feb 27. 2020
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By THE NATION

Thirty-nine retailers have been arrested for selling sanitary face masks at prices higher than the standard price announced by the Central Committee for Prices of Goods and Services, the Department of Internal Trade said on Wednesday (February 27).

“Five of them are online retailers while 34 are traditional retail shops,” said director-general Wichai Pochanakit. “They were later handed over to the police and charged with violation of the Prices of Goods and Services Act. They face a maximum punishment of Bt140,000 fine or seven years’ imprisonment, or both.”

“We intend to pursue legal actions to the fullest extent of the law, as it is unacceptable to take advantage of people in such a critical situation as the Covid-19 outbreak,” he added.

Wichai Pochanakit

Wichai also said that 47 manufacturers and wholesalers of face masks have yet to declare their stocks to the department. “The Central Committee for Prices of Goods and Services has ordered all manufacturers and wholesalers to declare their stocks for January within February 14, but so far only 28 have complied with the order,” he said. “We have already issued letters urging those 47 to declare their stock, or face Bt20,000 fine and/or one year imprisonment, as well as an additional Bt2,000 fine daily until the stock is declared.”

The Department of Internal Trade has also ordered face-mask manufacturers and wholesalers to submit a portion of their stock to the department’s face-mask distribution centre, who will later distribute to other agencies including Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, Thai Airways International, Drug Store Association of Thailand and 1,140 blue-flag stores of the Ministry of Commerce nationwide. “Currently there are private retailers who have joined the programme such as 7-11, Mini Big C and Tesco Lotus Express. They were instructed to sell face masks at Bt2.5 apiece, with a maximum of four pieces per person,” he added.

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