Although Thai news media is reporting the December, 2012, inflation rate hit a 13-month high here in Thailand, it’s not news to most people living here. The cost of basic things like food and fuel has gone through the roof in the last few months, with food especially seeing much higher prices than usual. In fact, the official figures released by the Thai Ministry of Commerce today show the consumer price index was up 3.63% last month from December 2011, almost 1 percent more than in November.
Of course, those who are against the current Pheu Thai government headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra are blaming the increase of the daily minimum wage to 300 baht for the cause of such a high inflation rate (funny how people making tens of thousands of baht a day think the rest of Thailand shouldn’t be making 300 baht a day — the Thai rich and greed really are insurmountably linked).
But, as the Permanent Secretary for Commerce said today, the 300 baht minimum wage rate has only affected inflation by around 0.1% – negligible at best.
For many people in Thailand, an inflation rate of 3.63%, while it doesn’t sound like much, is devastating to their buying power. With the average income in Thailand only around 300 baht per day (that’s $10 in the US), just imagine what a huge impact that has on how much food you can buy, even when your basic grocery bill is only a few hundred baht a week.
An increase of almost 4 percent means less rice, less vegetables and obviously less meat as, for many low-income Thais, that’s already a food stuff they simply have to do without.
Unfortunately too, while basic food stuffs may have gone up 3.63 perecent, other food stuffs have increased much more.
At the supermarket today, I priced boxes of cookies, cans of soup and bread — not luxury imported items, simply basic Thai brands. In the case of the cookies I buy, they have gone up 4 baht in the last year — 4 baht on a what-was-a-12-baht box — which is an increase of 25 percent. Bread has gone up 4 baht on a what-was-a-30-baht loaf — so an almost 14 percent increase from this time last year. As for soup, the cans of soup I used to buy last year at 45 baht are now 53 baht (an increase of 18 percent). Needless to say, I no longer buy them.
Analysts do say they expect the inflation rate to come down at least one percent in January, 2013, Let’s hope so as high food prices in Thailand, for many Thais, are one of their biggest concerns for 2013.
This report about Thailand’s higher food prices was put out by CNN in May, 2012. The situation is exactly the same but prices are now even higher.