General News - Tuesday December 18, 2007
RACE TO PARLIAMENT
Border traders hope for better days after polls
Chanthaburi _ Somsong Bupphachart, 42, a noodle shop owner in the border market in tambon Ban Laem of Pong Nam Ron district, is looking forward to Sunday's election in the expectation the new government will give her struggling business a boost.
The mother of two children said the unstable political situation since the coup last year has taken its toll on her business, as the cost of of everything has risen.
"I can't increase the price because I would lose customers, so what I'm doing is reducing the size of the serving," she said. "Before the coup I put five meatballs in a bowl of noodles, but now I put in only four. It's the only way I can stay in business."
Mrs Somsong said she made a profit of about 10,000 baht a month but this money was all spent on the upkeep of her shop and paying house rent, water and electricity bills and other daily expenses.
"Nowadays, I make the money for the others in the family," she said.
Mrs Somsong is not the only one experiencing business problems.
Eiamta Hedkum, 35, a grocery shop owner and Niyom Suksathit, 45, a roasted meatball vendor, run their businesses at the border about 80 kilometres from downtown Chanthaburi.
"The economy is not so good as under the Thaksin [Shinawatra] government. All consumer goods are very expensive while my total sales have dropped this year," said Mrs Eiamta, who welcomed the prospect of any political party being elected if it would stimulate buying power and solve economic problems.
She said unstable politics have undermined people's spending confidence and this had affected the market, which opened as a permanent border checkpoint three years ago.
"At the moment there are more Cambodian customers at this market than Thais, although that country and its people are poorer than we are," she said.
All three hoped elected politicians would help end the economic slowdown.
In Chanthaburi, 27 candidates from nine parties are vying for the three seats available. But only the Democrat, Matchimathipataya, People Power and Pracharaj parties have a real chance of winning.