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Govt Confirms Stable Food Supplies During Pandemic

Source: Vientiane Times

The government has said there is a sufficient supply of foodstuffs and consumer products for at least two months despite delays in transport caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Domestic Trade Department of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is working with importers to ensure food supplies are adequate during the crisis, the department’s Director General, Mr Valaxay Lengsavath, said at a press conference on Monday.

Provincial industry and commerce departments and Vientiane authorities are also monitoring the situation at local markets, shopping malls, supermarkets and minimarts, he said.         

In Vientiane, the Vientiane Industry and Commerce Department is partnering with businesses to set up special points of sale for rice, pork, vegetables and other produce in order to keep prices stable by boosting supplies.

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With regard to price management and service, the Domestic Trade Department is collaborating with provincial industry and commerce departments and Vientiane in the monitoring of prices in markets twice a day.

Vientiane commercial authorities are also partnering with the central inspection committee and relevant sectors to inspect goods on sale at wholesale and retail markets, shopping malls, supermarkets, minimarts and shopping centres.

Officials will check that vendors are not arbitrarily raising their prices, hoarding goods, or selling out-of-date products, Mr Valaxay said.

At the same time authorities are advising vendors and shoppers about the risks posed by Covid-19 and how to protect themselves against the virus by complying with the measures laid down by the National Taskforce on Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

Following inspections, it has been determined that markets are able to supply sufficient quantities of goods and prices remain stable, Mr Valaxay said.

Some products are in short supply due to difficulties with transport or movement from warehouses to points of sale, but this is not a serious concern, he added.

Shortages have led to a rise in price of some popular and essential items in some provinces, but prices return to normal when these goods are once again in plentiful supply.

In Vientiane, authorities have issued warnings and fined some traders who have taken advantage of fluctuations in supply and demand to raise their prices.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, in cooperation with the relevant sectors and provincial industry and commerce departments, is aiming to ensure that imports continue unimpeded so that sufficient goods are available in shops and markets during the pandemic. This will prevent vendors hiking their prices, Mr Valaxay said.

He called on traders and vendors not to raise their prices, not to hoard goods, and not to sell poor quality items during the crisis, so that shoppers were treated fairly.