Between March 20-22, Bangkok University surveyed 1,203 people in Bangkok about current cost of living.*
Q1: Opinion of people whether they or their family have been impacted by the cost of consumer goods
A. Yes, 76.1%
B. No, 23.9%
Q2: Do you have sufficient income for the current cost of living?
Q3: What causes the price of goods to rise?
A. Price of energy increases, 36.9%
B. Production cost increases, 14%
C. 300 baht a day and 15,000 baht a month for bachelor’s degree holders, 12.5%**
D. Mismanagement of the situation by government, 6.7%
E. Hoarding of goods while waiting for policy clarity of the government, 6.6%
F. Natural disasters which happen in Thailand, 5.8%
G. Other reasons such as cartels/monopolies, 3%
Q4. Comparing the performance of the Yingluck government with the Abhisit government
A. Ability to manage the situation well is about the same, 28.3%
B. Yingluck government is better, 27.5%
C. Both governments are just as bad as each other, 26%
D. Abhisit government is better, 18.2%
Q5. Does the Yingluck government pay attention/take an interest in (เอาใจใส่) in solving the cost of living problem?
A. Yes, 50.1% – pay some attention is 43% and a lot of attention is 7.1%
B. No. 49.9 – don’t pay so much attention is 39.8% and pay no attention is 10.1%
Q6. Do you have confidence that the government can solve the current cost of living problem?
A. Yes, 38.7%
B. No, 61.3%
BP: While people don’t have much confidence that the government can solve the problem, a very slight majority think the government is paying proper attention to the matter. Reason? People state the main contributing factor is energy price rise and they see that the Yingluck government is doing a better job than the Abhisit government. This is probably down to the fact that we don’t have a shortage of goods, like we did with palm oil last year. That could be directly attributed to government action whereas higher international energy prices is more difficult to pin a government.
All good for the government? For now, they are seen as doing a better job than the Abhisit government. It is the comparison and that people still see government is paying attention which matters more than confidence in solving the problem. However, sustained high energy prices will cause inflationary pressure which will build up more. If energy prices continue to rise the government will take more of the blame. This is partly frustration, but also of the government’s own making for tinkering with the level of taxes for petrol and diesel (i.e reducing the levies imposed then partially reimposing them etc) so the government becomes more directly associated with some price rises. We have only had a couple of months of higher energy prices, but if the situation in the Middle East gets worse then the price could increase further. Sustained high energy prices will exacerbate cost of living problems and ultimately more people will direct their frustration toward the government. This is simply the reality.
At the time of the poll, the 300 baht a day minimum wage increase hadn’t taken place. We are still yet to see how this will fully play out in terms of higher costs. The combination of higher energy costs and higher labor costs is clearly going to increase the cost of goods from now on so while a certain % – hard to guess exactly how many but you those on the minimum wage and even those above the minimum wage who will get pay increases – so do these people feel better off? Most likely, but there will be many others who won’t get pay increases to match the extra living costs. How many will blame government policy or energy prices?
*Survey data methodology
Lower than Bachelors, 67.5%
More than Bachelors, 3.1%
Civil servant, 9.4%
Private sector employee, 27%
House husband, house wife and retired, 6.5%
Student, independent, unemployed, others, 12.4%
**Only civil servants with a bachelor’s degree get 15,000 baht a month minimum. It doesn’t apply to the private sector.