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Sandbag shortage, veggie prices up

Authorities do not have enough sandbags to build the need flood walls and will buy all that private sector can provide, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Monday.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra: We're running out of sandbags. (Photo POST TODAY)
Ms Yingluck said another 1.5 million sandbags were needed to fight off the rising water.

The Commerce Ministry's hotline has been flooded with calls from people reporting sandbag shortages.
The nationwide flooding over the past two months has also hit the supply of fresh vegetables and prices are soaring, as the Bank of Thailand put the overall damage to the economy at 60 billion baht and warned it will probably go higher.

Many people have called the Internal Trade Department's hotline at 1569 to complain that there were not enough sandbags and that the retail price had jumped to 45 baht a bag, from 30 baht last week.

Commerce permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach said he had assigned the Internal Trade Department to oversee the availability of essential items such as sandbags, flat-bottomed boats, rubber boots and medicine, to ensure adequate supplies and access to them.
He said the government cannot control the prices of sandbags, as many people habe demanded demanded.

"The current situation is not normal and if we control sandbag prices, there'll be even more chaos," Mr Yanyong said.

Union Frozen Products Co (UFP) chief marketing officer Anurat Khokasai said the severe flooding in many areas had affected the availability of vegetables grown in the North, such as lettuce and cabbage.

However, vegetables grown in the central region, such as limes and kale, were still on sale in local markets.

"Some vegetable prices might soar 30 to 40 per cent above their normal prices because some roads in the North have been cut off by the floods," Mr Anurat said.

Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap said his ministry is providing assistance for workers temporarily laid off because of the flooding - including job offers.

He said his staff were asking companies hit by the floods to let their employees work elsewhere while keeping their employment contracts.

After the floods recede, and the businesses reopen, they could return to their previous employment. Negotiations were continuing with factory managements in industrial estates in Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Chai Nat and Nakhon Sawan provinces.
Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap (Photo by Kosol Nakachol)
"Affected workers should be allowed to work in nearby provinces such as Pathum Thani, Rayong, Chon Buri, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan until the situation returns to normal without losing their employment contracts.

"Two factories in Pathum Thani have advised us they can give work to about 700 flood-affected workers," Mr Padermchai said.

The Employment Department had also prepared over 57,000 jobs in Pathum Thani, Rayong, Chon Buri, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan provinces for workers who may be laid off.

The minister said he had ordered the Skills Development Department to set up a catering facility in Ayutthaya and provide 10,000 meal boxes per day. The department would also repair flood-damaged houses, temples, public places, electrical equipment and farm machinery after the floods recede.

Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said the Bank of Thailand has estimated the economic damage from nationwide flooding at 60 billion baht, or 0.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Mr Thirachai said the central bank reported its estimate to a meeting of government agencies called to assess the damage to the country's economy.

However, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board's (NESDB) estimate was higher, at 80 billion to 90 billion baht, or about 0.9 per cent of GDP.

"These are only initial estimates of the damage, because there is still more to come, but I don't think the damage will be higher than the NESDB's estimate of 80-90 billion baht," the minister said.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/260638/sandbag-shortage-veggie-prices-up

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