Energy Minister says diesel price crisis is nearly over

Energy Minister says diesel price crisis is nearly over

The high retail price of diesel is set to fall soon, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said yesterday.

He was speaking before the senate committee on energy, in response to questions raised by the committee as to why prices have been rising rapidly across the country recently.

"From about 25 baht per litre late last year, the average retail price of diesel has already surpassed 30 baht, which last month prompted the government's committee on energy policy management to begin subsidising the diesel price in a bid to keep it no higher than 30 baht per litre," Mr Supattanapong said.

Aside from using Oil Fund mechanisms to keep the diesel price low, the government has also asked for cooperation from oil retailers to reduce their margins, he said.

The diesel price subsidy using the Oil Fund will initially last no later than next year, he said.

Biodiesel prices have also risen considerably due to shortages in major producing nations, including Indonesia and Malaysia where Covid-19 outbreaks prompted labour shortages in the sector resulted in labour shortages in the palm oil making sector, he said.

As for distorted information regarding the government's handling of diesel prices being spread online against the government, Mr Supattanapong said the Energy Ministry is considering taking legal action against those moving behind these malicious rumours.

At the same time, he said, the ministry is trying to improve public understanding of the situation.

Apichart Phrairungruang, president of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand, meanwhile, said a 20% strike by cargo lorry drivers will continue for an extra week to heap more pressure on the government to keep diesel under 25 baht per litre.

The strike began Nov 1 with a threat to raise the cargo transporting service strike to 40%, he said.

The federation, however, decided to keep the strike at the same 20% level after having received complaints from manufacturers about the impact it was having on them, he said.

And in a symbolic move, more than 1,000 lorries will gather on routes into Bangkok next Tuesday, he said.

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