Ministry of Energy Appointed 3 Working Groups to Solve NGV Problems
Mr. Suthep Liumsirijarern, Director General of the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), revealed that three working groups were appointed by the Ministry of Energy to review the price increase of natural gas for vehicles (NGV) to re-examine the NGV cost, after transport services operators had petitioned for review and deferral of NGV price increase, to avoid adverse impact on the transportation cost in the long term.
The working groups have been appointed separately by vehicle type, namely: 1) the Working Group for Review of NGV Price for Trucks, chaired by Mr. Kittirat Na Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce; 2) the Working Group for Review of NGV Price for Buses or Private Fixed-route Buses, chaired by Mr. Norkun Sitthiphong, Permanent Secretary of Energy; and 3) the Working Group for Review of NGV Price for Taxis, also chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Energy.
“The working group components include representatives of PTT, EPPO and the Department of Land Transport. The reason why three separate working groups are needed is that the transportation cost of each vehicle type is different from the others. If clarifications are required, discussions have to be made separately based on NGV applications. The working groups have not yet met as the Permanent Secretary’s schedule is very tight; however, I believe meetings will be called very soon,” Mr. Suthep explained.
The policy management is in transition at the moment. After the cabinet reshuffle and with the incoming Minister of Energy, there is a chance that this policy may be reviewed; however, it will not be in the extreme that the price increase will be ruled out because that will greatly affect the financial status of the Oil Fund. At present, the Oil Fund is in the red, at -140 billion Baht, so it is crucial to cut its expenditure. Lately, a loan of one billion Baht has been secured to increase the liquidity of the Oil Fund.
Rather, the approach to be taken to reduce a stream of protests is to delay the price increase or extend the price increase intervals so as not to create impact on the transportation sector.
At the same time, the government has to consult with transport services operators to create their better understanding. It has to be accepted that, prior to the NGV price increase, the government has not given importance to this matter, resulting in demonstrations and road blockades by trucks.