State vows to maintain price controls
The government has pledged to cap the prices of diesel and cooking gas for as long as possible to stabilise the costs of consumer goods.
Speaking after a joint meeting with Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, permanent secretary for energy Kulit Sombatsiri, and Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered related agencies on Thursday to prepare advance management plans to cope with rising global oil prices.
The premier also assigned them to find a balance in the supply of palm oil for food and energy, as well as enhance liquidity to stabilise the state Oil Fund if global oil prices continue to increase.
According to Gen Prayut, the government vows to cap the diesel price at 30 baht per litre and cooking gas at 318 baht per 15-kilogramme cylinder until March 31.
"The government will keep on trying to seek budget to curb the price of diesel and cooking gas for as long as possible to alleviate the impact on the cost of living. The government is considering finding an additional budget to shore up the state Oil Fund used to subsidise retail diesel prices."
The Energy Ministry reported that as of Jan 16, the state Oil Fund was 8.7 billion baht in the red.
The National Energy Policy Council chaired by Gen Prayut approved on Nov 5, 2021, the Oil Fund borrowing 30 billion baht to subsidise retail diesel prices.
The first batch of borrowing tallying 20 billion baht is scheduled for this month, with a second batch tallying 10 billion to be secured later should oil prices rise further.
The borrowing is used to subsidise retail diesel prices, which are now capped at 30 baht per litre.
Mr Supattanapong said earlier the government expects the first batch of 20 billion baht to help cap diesel prices for a period of only four months.
In a related development, Gen Prayut asked the Commerce Ministry to better manage prices of pork and other consumer goods, while promising the state will continue to implement measures to alleviate the cost of living, especially for low-income earners.
"The government has a limited budget, so relief measures must be in line with the government's fiscal and monetary framework," he said.