Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Committee passes gas price freeze motions

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

The legislature’s Economics Committee yesterday passed resolutions demanding that state-run refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) freeze liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices.

The resolutions, initiated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, said CPC Corp should freeze prices for household users until the end of the year, as the company has achieved more than 80 percent of its revenue targets.

The resolutions also asked CPC to take into account the misery index and real wages when adjusting future fuel prices.

“Given that the CPC has achieved 80 percent of its revenue goals, there is no need for it to increase natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas prices, especially when demand for these products is about to increase because winter is coming,” DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said at the committee.

The average price of LNG for residential consumers will stay at NT$17.71 per cubic meter, while LPG stays at NT$8.2 per kilogram, which CPC chairman Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) said were below their cost levels.

So far this year, the company has sold LNG worth NT$25.3 billion and LPG worth NT$14 billion, accounting for 89.1 percent and 80 percent of its annual targets for the two items respectively, according to estimates made by the committee.

DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) said the company was only concerned about its own interests.

“A price increase of NT$1 on natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas will be a substantial burden for the public,” Su said. “At times of inflation, any price hike hurts the public. We do not think it is appropriate to hike fuel prices now.”

CPC yesterday expressed concerns over the committee’s resolutions, saying it has been operating at a loss some time.

“Though we have hit 80 percent of our revenue targets, we believe there is still room for us to increase sales and make more profits,” Lin said during the committee’s question-and-answer session.

After negotiations, CPC representatives agreed not to raise household LNG and LPG prices during the last quarter of this year in exchange for the committee making a symbolic budget cut of NT$1,000 for the two products’ revenue goals.

CPC president Lin Maw-wen (林茂文) said the company would respect the committee’s decisions.

“It is a dilemma for us to set product prices while considering economic indices at the same time. We will try to find a balance to make sure consumers won’t face too much pressure from price hikes,” he said.

Liu Ming-chung (劉明忠), chief executive officer of the State-owned Enterprise Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, yesterday said the resolutions might affect CPC’s financial health, as it had already followed legislators’ orders not to make adjustments for this month’s LNG and LPG prices.

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