Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Yiin pans talks of sharp fuel price hike

'Irresponsible' The economics minister said that the rate of the price hike would not be determined until CPC has calculated its average international crude oil costs

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) rejected media speculation yesterday that the government would raise gasoline prices by NT$6.2 per liter next month, although the ministry hoped to be able to fully reflect the rise in international fuel costs.

The Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday that the state-owned oil refiner, CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), planned to increase domestic gasoline and diesel prices by NT$6.2 and NT$6.9 per liter respectively on June 2 in line with its rising international crude oil costs, but that the Ministry of Economic Affairs rejected the plan.

“Whoever came up with this information was being very irresponsible,” Yiin told reporters at a media gathering.

“The exact price hike in domestic fuel prices next month will not be determined until we have calculated the average international crude oil costs this month,” Yiin said, adding that the ministry would not make an official announcement before June 1.

losses

The new minister said that if fuel and electricity prices were not adjusted, state-owned companies such as CPC and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) would each face losses of between NT$110 billion and NT$120 billion by the end of this year.

“No large enterprises can afford such losses,” Yiin said.

Yiin said he could not elaborate on the government’s policies on domestic fuel and electricity prices at the moment, as they are associated with commodity prices and the nation’s economic growth.

He added that Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄) was in charge and the case would be discussed during the first Cabinet meeting today.

Asked about the proposal to raise the ceiling on listed companies’ investments in China, Yiin said that there was an “urgent need to lift the current 40 percent cap on investment, as it has largely restricted the competitiveness of the nation’s big publicly traded enterprises’ competitiveness amid external environmental changes.”

Negotiations

However, the Mainland Affairs Council is the agency in charge of regulating policies toward China and any decision would need cross-departmental negotiations, Yiin said.

Separately, gas station owners who help the public to hoard fuel could be fined up to NT$500,000, Taoyuan County’s Economic Development Bureau warned yesterday. The Taoyuan County bureau said that gas station operators risk fines of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 if they permit individuals to stock fuel by purchasing containers — such as big plastic buckets and jerry cans — of gasoline and other fuel.

Complaints filed with the bureau has increased in recent weeks on expectations that the government would remove the cap on gasoline and fuel prices next month, bureau officials said.

Under government regulations, neither private individuals nor gasoline stations are permitted to hoard fuel, bureau officials said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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