High inflation sends Thai living cost soaring

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Sheltering from rain near Bangkok’s Grand Palace, scores of unemployed Thais queue alongside homeless people waiting for free meals as 14-year-high inflation sends living costs soaring — causing a headache for the government ahead of a looming general election.

And in a move seen as symbolic of the severity of the situation but likely to cause more pain for consumers, the government recently raised the price of instant noodles for the first time in more than a decade after manufacturers agitated for a rise.

For those waiting in the rain, the impact is already painfully clear.

“A few years ago, I was able to afford buying my own food but now food is too expensive,” Somchai, who only gave one name and who is unemployed, said.

“I couldn’t bear the prices so I have to come out and find food donation like this,” the 42-year-old said after he had collected his meal.

Veerayuth Sae-ung, queueing to buy a noodle lunch in central Bangkok, said his “way of eating has changed a lot.”

“I used to come down here and buy lunch like this daily, but lately I just couldn’t afford to buy from stalls every day anymore,” the 34-year-old said.

More needed

Greg Lange, co-founder of Bangkok Community Help Foundation which distributes 500 meals a day, warned they were helping more and more people.

“Even in spite of the rain, there are some times that the line goes two or three blocks,” he said.

“I think it was already very hard for the elderly to make ends meet,” his co-founder Friso Poldervaart added.

Poldervaart said many of the elderly people they helped had lost touch with their families and were unable to survive on the government support of between 600 and 1,000 baht a month.

“You cannot survive on that. That’s just the way it is,” he said.

“So it was already hard, but of course with increasing prices it just gets harder for everyone to make ends meet.”

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