Published on February 20, 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej recently lamented the ignorant habit of the new generation of ignoring small change and rounding up prices, pushing up inflation. Some didn't even bother to wait for merchandisers to accept the reddish and tiny 25- or 50-satang coins.
The Commerce Ministry recently also questioned if there was a sufficient supply of small change. It believes sellers and customers are rounding up prices for convenience.
Instead of having a price of, say, Bt5.75, an item will be sold at Bt6, causing an unnecessary price rise.
Yesterday, Treasury Department officials claimed the habit of rounding up odd figures was not a result of an inadequate supply of small change. Rather, it came from people's habit of not wanting to keep small change in their wallets.
Charuwan Chantimapong, the department's deputy director-general, said about 2.3 billion 25-satang coins were circulating on the market along with 16 billion 50-satang coins.
She said Thais were not alone in having this habit. Europeans, Japanese and Americans tend to ignore small change because many think it would waste space in their wallets.
If the government really wants to promote the use of the coins, the Commerce Ministry should ask producers to adjust prices according to actual production costs, she added.
If these production costs have risen by half a baht, the price rise should be allowed accordingly. As it turns out, producers tend to raise the price tag by say Bt1, Bt5 or Bt10 at a time because they think customers don't bother with small change.
In fact, the Treasury Department produces 12 million 25-satang coins and another 12 million 50-satang coins every month.
But only 200,000 to 300,000 coins are sent back to the ministry.
Therefore, a huge number of small coins are still on the market.
But where have these coins been going these days? What do people do with the small coins if they don't return them to the government?
We have seen small change as donations at several temples but there must be another explanation for the disappearance of these small coins.
Or perhaps some customers want to keep small change as memorabilia.