Groups seek extension of diesel price cap

Groups seek extension of diesel price cap

Representatives from the Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT) and 10 other associations converged outside Government House on Wednesday to demand diesel prices remain capped at 30 baht per litre.

The petition followed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's plea for the public's understanding on Tuesday over the government's decision to remove the price cap, as the Fuel Oil Fund used to keep the price down is severely depleted.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, starting on May 1 the government will only subsidise half of the difference above the 30-baht mark. For example, if diesel sells at 40 baht a litre, then consumers would have to pay 35 baht per litre.

About 60 representatives gathered to urge the government to review the decision. The petition was accepted by Mongkolchai Som-udon, deputy permanent secretary for the Prime Minister's Office.

The groups said the new measure will adversely impact several sectors and consumers, adding there are alternatives that could be adopted to maintain diesel prices at 25-30 baht per litre.

In their petition, the associations recommended the government remove purified biodiesel, or B100, which they say could reduce the diesel price by 1.50-2 baht per litre for a year and reduce the diesel excise tax to 20 satang a litre for a year. They called for the energy minister to be sacked, as he has failed to address their demands.

LTFT chairman Apichart Prairungruang said yesterday the government should maintain the diesel price cap as an increase of one baht per litre would raise transportation costs by 3%.

He said the sector would respond by raising fares as soon as the diesel price is floated again, before predicting a 20% increase in fares. "This is our last call. It's a must-do for us to survive," he said.

The operator of a passenger boat service along Klong Saen Saep is also reportedly planning to raise fares by one baht from 9-19 baht to 10-20 baht, if the diesel price goes up to 31 baht a litre.

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