FUEL SUBSIDY SCAM
Police have summoned owners of 64 roadside LPG gas filling facilities to acknowledge charges of illegally selling cooking gas to the transport sector.
The move came after the Energy Ministry asked police to investigate if suppliers of household cooking gas are selling their product to the transport sector.
The difference between household and transport LPG prices entices plant operators to break the law by secretly supplying gas to stations supplying motor vehicles. This exploits the government fuel subsidy for households.
The ministry's suspicion was fuelled by a sharp 16% increase in the consumption of LPG for cooking last year.
Deputy national police chief Worapong Chiewpreecha, who is in charge of the probe, said police have found solid evidence to back the charges.
There are 460 gas filling facilities nationwide. Investigators confirmed that 40 plants had violated the law by deciding not to fill gas cylinders for household use, instead selling the LPG to outlets selling gas to motor vehicles.
Pol Gen Worapong said household consumption of cooking gas has dropped from 8,700 tonnes per day to 6,400 tonnes.
Consumption in the transport sector, meanwhile, has shot up to 5,000 tonnes from 2,900 tonnes per day.
He said the damage is estimated at 9 million baht a day, or about 4 billion baht since the LPG subsidy scheme was put in place. LPG for households is three baht lower than LPG sold to the transport sector. The prices of LPG for the transport and industrial sectors are higher than LPG for households to reflect costs.
"The retail operators may not think it is much. But the damage to the economy is huge," Pol Gen Worapong said.
He said the actual damage is likely to be higher because illegal sales of household cooking gas to the industrial sector are also suspected.
The price of LPG for the industrial sector is 13 baht higher than that of LPG for households, he said.
Fuel Trade and Stockpile director Suwanna Trongtampand said the situation is expected to improve.
"Things will turn around as police expand the investigation," she said.
About the author
- Writer: Wassayos Ngamkham