Thu, Nov 08, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Minister Chen mum on gas price policy

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) declined to speculate yesterday on whether domestic gasoline prices would be raised any further before the presidential election in March.

During a session of the legislature's Economics and Energy Committee, Chen declined to discuss the ministry's stance on the administration's policy of freezing oil prices, saying he was unable to speculate on the issue.

Chen was answering questions by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Shu-po (許舒博), who ridiculed the ministry for implementing the oil price floating mechanism in defiance of public and legislative opinion and altering it after only a few months, only to say that it was considering freezing the mechanism.

Hsu accused the ministry of making the policy change solely for political purposes, saying if the ministry had any gumption, it would stick to its mechanism and allow local oil prices to reflect prices on international oil markets.

Meanwhile, Chen defended the decision by the Executive Yuan's price stabilization task force a day earlier to lower the ceiling on gasoline price adjustments under the floating mechanism to 12 percent from 15 percent starting next month.

He said, however, that the freeze -- as well as the floating pricing mechanism as a whole -- would come under review again next month before the task force makes any new decision.

Chen said he had no knowledge of a media report saying the 12 percent ceiling on gasoline price adjustments would only be effective until the presidential election.

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