As the Lunar New Year approaches, rumors have been circulating that the state-run China Petroleum Corp. (中油) will raise its gasoline prices once Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who previously declared he would hold the prices of civilian utilities such as water, electricity and gasoline at a reasonable level, resigns from the Cabinet after the holidays.
CPC officials denied the speculations yesterday, while the Ministry of Economic Affairs said the possibility is still under inspection. Economics Minister Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said that the government would not support any proposal by Formosa Petrochemical Corp. or the CPC to increase domestic fuel prices before the Lunar New Year, which begins January 29.
Ho pointed out she understood that with international crude oil prices soaring to the current level of between US$63 and US$64 per barrel, the two major diesel and gasoline suppliers in Taiwan were bound to feel the heavy burden.
She added the MOEA is keeping a close watch on the situation and will assess whether and when an adjustment in fuel prices might be necessary.
On a long-term basis, fuel prices in the domestic market have to reflect the trend of the world oil market, said Ho.
However, she added, the ministry will wait until the FPC and the CPC issue their monthly revenue reports for January before deciding whether the current fuel prices are sustainable.
The minister said she is fully aware of the public's wish for price stability during the Lunar New Year holiday.