PTT complex braces for protest

business August 23, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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Staff of companies in PTT Complex on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road were told to leave offices at noon, as a group of people plan a protest against LPG price hike at 3.30pm.



 
A staff at PTT said that all who do not need to stay are allowed to go home, as the complex gets ready for a protest against LPG price hike. The protesters could arrive in front of the complex at 3.30pm, he said. 
The complex houses a number of buildings, including PTT’s headquarters. Next to it are Energy Complex, where the Energy Ministry is located along with some energy companies. The Board of Investment’s building is also at the complex. 
The Energy Ministry plans to increase the cooking gas price by Bt0.50 a month over 12 months from the current cap of Bt18.13 per kg.
While PTT hosted a press conference at 10.30am to explain the price hike, Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal insisted that there would be no negotiation, saying that it remains unclear in whose name these protesters launch the action.
He added that due to low domestic price compared to global prices, some LPG is smuggled. 
Yesterday, the Senate Committee on corruption and good governance hosted a seminar which attacked the energy authorities for the decision to raise the LPG price for household use on September 1. An argument was that the higher gas price would raise the cost of living, at the time when Thailand's household debt is at an extraordinarily high level. 
While urging the government to stop the price-hike plan, the Committee also urged for a higher levy on petrochemical plants for the LPG supply. At present, they are charged only Bt1 per kg, while industrial plants in general are subjected to the Bt12.55 levy. They said the petrochemical plants, which turn the gas into petrochemical products, consume about 2.5-3 billion kg of such gas per annum. This leads to the insufficient supply for domestic use and the imports of such gas which during 2008-2012 cost Bt120.59 billion. 
Bualuang Securities said in a research that assuming that PTT's gas cost in 2013 is unchanged, it should register a loss of Bt4 billion on LPG sales. The floatation of the cooking gas price would thus clearly boost its earnings.