Govt con­sid­ers change to set­ting nat­u­ral gas price

Shorter time span would re­flect the mar­ket fun­da­men­tals and help ease in­dus­trial costs

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By ZHENG YANGPENG zhengyang­peng@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The gov­ern­ment could shorten the time be­tween ad­just­ing nat­u­ral gas prices to bet­ter re­flect do­mes­tic mar­ket fun­da­men­tals, a top eco­nomic plan­ner said onWed­nes­day.

But Hu Zu­cai, vice-chair­man of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, did not sig­nal if a price cut is on the way.

Price ad­just­ments have been made an­nu­ally un­der a scheme launched in July 2013. The last time prices were ad­justed was on April 1, ef­fec­tively merg­ing a two-tier pric­ing sys­tem into one to track an oil mar­ket slump.

Yet, the last price cut did not fully re­flect falls in sub­sti­tu­tion fu­els to which reg­u­lated gas prices are bench­marked. This has curbed gas use by fac­to­ries and slowed the shift from diesel and gaso­line to gas in ve­hi­cles.

“Nex­twe’re study­ing (whether) to shorten the pe­ri­ods,” Hu said at a news con­fer­ence.

China is the world’s third largest con­sumer of gas, but con­sump­tion has dropped in line with a cool­ing econ­omy.

Un­der the pol­icy, Chi­nese in­dus­trial users are pay­ing among the world’s high­est prices, es­pe­cially when com­pared to oil. Price ad­just­ments in the oil and gaso­line sec­tors have al­ready been short­ened to 10 days from 22 days.

This has helped the gov­ern­ment and industry re­act to volatil­ity in the global crude mar­ket. Busi­ness are now hop­ing pe­riod prices.

There has even been spec­u­la­tion dur­ing the past few months that whole­sale gas price will be cut by up to 30 per­cent, which was de­nied by Hu.

“Now that the ad­just­ment mech­a­nism has been set up, it should work,” Hu said, adding that the reg­u­la­tor was also for a sim­i­lar shorter when ad­just­ing gas un­likely to ad­just gas prices for res­i­den­tial use in the near fu­ture.

But Bei­jing could ex­pand tier-pric­ing re­form to res­i­den­tial cus­tomers. This would even­tu­ally lower sub­si­dies and pre­vent waste­ful use, of­fi­cials said.

On Wed­nes­day, the NDRC also re­leased the re­vised ver­sion of the gov­ern­ment’s price cat­a­log. Bei­jing pre­vi­ously con­trolled 13 cat­e­gories and the cost of 100 items. This has been sharply cut to seven cat­e­gories and 20 items from Jan 1, 2016.

Prices still reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment in­clude elec­tric­ity, spe­cial drugs, rail­way ticket pric­ing and postal ser­vice. Be­side the change in the gov­ern­ment price cat­a­log, many more items will be reg­u­lated by lo­cal author­i­ties. The NDRC has al­ready ap­proved lo­cal ver­sions of the price cat­a­log from 30 prov­inces. The lists will be pub­li­cized soon.

Now that the ad­just­ment mech­a­nism has been set up, it should work.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Hong Kong po­lice take a sus­pect back to the scene on Wed­nes­day to learn more about the case where a tourist from Harbin, Hei­longjiang prov­ince, died af­ter a shop­ping brawl. Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the vic­tim, 54-yearold Miao Chunqi, died on Tues­day af­ter he tried to break up a brawl be­tween two fe­male tourists in­side a jew­elry shop in Kowloon when four men stepped in and beat him on Mon­day. Po­lice con­tinue to hunt for the other two at­tack­ers.

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