Sun, August 07, 2022

in-focus

Refineries to issue plan on debt-hit Oil Fuel Fund ‘this month’


The energy minister expects oil refinery operators to issue plans this month to help boost liquidity of the Oil Fuel Fund, which is suffering record debts from subsidising pump prices amid the global oil price crisis.

The Oil Fuel Fund Office (OFFO) reported on Monday that the Oil Fuel Fund deficit has hit an all-time high of 102.58 billion baht – 65.2 billion baht from the diesel-subsidy account and 37.38 billion baht from the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) account.

The fund currently has around 3.31 billion baht in liquidity to subsidise fuel prices.

Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow has for the last two weeks pressured refinery operators to help support the Oil Fuel Fund with the extra profit they are gaining from soaring energy prices. However, so far the operators have not responded.

“In a free market, it is hard to force business operators to do as you ask, so all we have been doing is asking for their cooperation,” said Supattanapong on Friday. “Even in the United States, the president is asking businesses for cooperation.”

The energy minister said he understood that refinery operators were discussing available options and would come up with tangible plans before the end of July.

“Companies cannot focus solely on earning the highest profits, they have to think about the people and society as well,” Supattanapong said, adding that staying rich was not “the way of sustainability”.

“The government is not asking for a donation, nor are we forcing them to comply. We will let them decide how they can help,” he insisted.

Kla Party leader and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij last month claimed Thai refinery operators were “robbing” the Oil Fuel Fund and proposed imposing a “windfall tax” on their gross refinery margin. Refinery operators denied Korn’s claim they were profiteering.

Published : July 01, 2022

By : THE NATION