Tue, May 20, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Liu will finalize fuel, utility price hikes Thursday

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Incoming premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) is expected to finalize hikes of fuel and utility prices during the first meeting of the new Cabinet on Thursday, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday.

The Cabinet will also announce its complementary measures in order to put the public at ease, the report said.

To reflect rising crude oil prices, domestic 92 and 95-octane unleaded gasolines are expected to rise to NT$35 and NT$37 per liter from current NT$30 and NT$30.7 respectively, while diesel prices will jump to NT$34.4 per liter from current NT$27.5, the biggest increase in the nation’s history, the report said.

However, incoming minister of economic affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said the price hikes would not be as high as expected and are likely to stay within a 20 percent range in the first stage, the paper said.

An official of state-owned CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), who requested anonymity, said the company believes that gasoline and diesel prices, which may be adjusted on June 2, should in principle go up by at least NT$6 and NT$6.4 per liter respectively.

But CPC Corp spokeswoman Jessica Tang (唐苑莉) said no rates have been determined yet.

Meanwhile, the Consumers’ Foundation (消基會) expressed concern over the new administration’s planned price hikes, which it feels are aggressive.

The foundation urged the government to raise prices in stages to lessen the impact on the public, especially since crude oil prices are likely to drop in future.

“Fuel prices are the locomotive of all commodity prices,” foundation chairman Cheng Jen-hung (程仁宏) told a press conference yesterday.

“Once fuel prices are increased, other commodity prices will be boosted, leaving consumers with less money to spend, since salaries remain unchanged,” Cheng said.

If the new administration can improve incomes and job opportunities, consumers will be better able to withstand commodity price increases and the planned hikes in fuel and utility prices, he said.

The foundation also urged the Ministry of Economic Affairs to disclose the CPC’s cost structure, including the cost of crude oil imports before refining and the time of purchase.

The ministry should respect the floating oil price mechanism, Cheng said.

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