LPG subsidy may go untouched in April

Next month's scheduled partial float of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices for households and transport may be put off for another month, says Energy Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal.

Allowing LPG prices to float is a matter of fairness, says Mr Pongsak. PORNPROM SATTRABHAYA

Speaking yesterday, he said the potential deferral stems from a time-consuming study of a proposed subsidy scheme for street vendors and low-income earners.

The Energy Policy Administration Committee this week is expected to discuss a framework for the partial float of LPG prices.

Earlier this year, the Energy Policy and Planning Office said the LPG price would be gradually lifted by 50 satang a month for 12 straight months.

Retail LPG prices have been fixed at 18.13 baht a kilogramme for households and 21.38 baht per kg in transport for decades, leaving them far below global prices.

But the spikes in oil prices in recent years have prompted motorists, taxi drivers in particular, to switch to LPG, significantly boosting consumption.

Since 2008, the country has been a net importer of LPG.

In a bid to provide the LPG subsidy to those who really need it, Suan Dusit Rajabhat University was assigned to survey the target group for the subsidy.

Preliminary results of the study found that 8.5 million households nationwide would get the subsidy.

''I want to do it the right way for the energy subsidy scheme, as it is unfair that petrol and diesel users have to provide contributions to subsidise LPG consumers,'' said Mr Pongsak.

Last year, the Energy Ministry was successful in lifting the subsidy of LPG prices for the industrial sector, raising the price to 30.13 baht per kg today from 18.13 baht.

Since 2008, Thailand has subsidised LPG to the tune of 130 billion baht, according to the Energy Business Department.

It said imported LPG volume in April and May could set a record high of 180,000 tonnes per month, up from 160,000 tonnes a month in the same period last year.

About the author

Writer: Yuthana Praiwan
Position: Business Reporter