Thailand: Somkid urges action on fuel prices
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Somkid Jatusripitak yesterday called on energy giant PTT and the Energy Ministry, among others, to come up with measures to ease the looming impact of rising oil prices on low-income earners.
Somkid, citing the potential cost burden on workers such as taxi drivers and taxi motorcyclists, was speaking as he delivered policies to state-owned PTT and urged that the relief measures come out within three months.
He also asked PTT to help stabilise the country’s energy security amid a trend of rising global oil prices. He said the energy-related parties would jointly finish drawing up this plan within the targeted timeframe, and that the measures would not exert pressures on PTT’s business costs.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that, although severe impacts from the rising oil prices were yet to be felt, the government was acting prudently in taking a pre-emptive approach to help cushion low-income earners if their predicament worsened.
Somkid also asked that PTT and other companies join with the Industry Ministry to develop plans to bring to fruition the bio-economy, which would boost farm product prices. Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said that the ministry would seek collaboration with retail oil traders to find ways to mitigate the impacts of the rising oil prices.
In the initial stage, it is envisaged that taxi motorcyclists will be given a discount of Bt3 per litre when filling with 95 gasohol. They will be subsidised by the Oil Fund at a programme cost of Bt300 million for six months or Bt600 million for a year.
An examination of this measure will be finished in December. The subsidy will target around 300,000 taxi motorcyclists nationwide who are registered with the Department of Land Transport.
As part of the move, the Energy Ministry has sought the cooperation of retail petrol stations, which would give the discounts to the taxi motorcyclists at Bt1 per litre, while the Oil Fund will contribute Bt2 a litre.
The Energy Policy Administrative Committee yesterday also resolved to use the Oil Fund to subsidise the diesel price at no more than Bt1 per litre in order to keep the price below Bt30 per litre.
Siri said after the committee meeting that he is confident that the measure could keep the diesel price in check for the next nine months, given that the Dubai crude oil price has fallen below US$80 a barrel.
If the Dubai crude price were to rise to US$85 per barrel, or within the range of US$82.50 to US$87.5, the Oil Fund would subsidise the diesel price at a rate not exceeding Bt1.50 per litre. This action would contain the diesel price at no more than Bt30 a litre for the next six months, Siri said.
The goal of the Energy Ministry is to ward off the impacts of the rising crude oil price until at least March. However, the ministry has no policy to make the Oil Fund go into deficit, he added.
The ministry will continue to peg the retail price of cooking gas for household use at Bt363 for a 15-kilogramme-cyliner until next March.
As of yesterday the Oil Fund has a budget of Bt24.592 billion.