Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

DPP takes fair trade body to task over fuel prices

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday said the Fair Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision that CPC, Taiwan (CPC) and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPC) were not involved in a price cartel showed that the commission is not doing its job.

“The decision showed that the FTC dares not mess with the ‘big boys’ and will only bully private businesses with its double standards,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.

The commission said no concrete evidence was available to prove that the two companies — the nation’s only fuel providers — had collaborated on prices, despite the percentages of their weekly price adjustments under a floating fuel pricing scheme being almost identical, Pan said, citing media reports of an FTC investigation that would be released soon.

“We cannot help but wonder why their fuel prices and adjustment rates have been almost the same, despite the two companies’ differing production costs and operational schemes,” Pan said.

“And the commission told us that the pricing strategy is not a concerted effort,” he added.

Pan said that the commission had come to a different decision in the past.

In 2004, when the DPP was in power, he said, the commission slapped a fine of NT$6.5 million (US$217,000) on both CPC and FPC for operating a price cartel and the two companies’ subsequent appeal was overruled by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The lawmakers said the commission would only “bully” private businesses with less resources and power, such as its fine on four major convenience store chains last year for price-fixing when they raised the price of freshly brewed coffee by NT$5 per cup.

The commission also fined China Airlines NT$20 million and EVA Airways NT$12 million last year for price-fixing, he added, but has not done the same to Chinese airlines.

The DPP caucus urged the commission to conduct a new investigation on the fuel providers’ alleged price-fixing and the Control Yuan to launch a probe into the commission’s malfeasance, Pan said.

“The FTC has to prove it is able and willing to do its job. Otherwise, let the private Consumers’ Foundation or the Consumer Protection Committee under the Executive Yuan handle the fair trade policy. They would probably do a better job than the commission,” Pan said.

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