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People's Daily Online>>China Business

China to reform prices in energy sector

(Xinhua)

08:34, February 29, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- China will reform its energy and resource pricing system this year, but will time it to minimize impacts on consumer prices, the country's price regulator said Tuesday.

The move is aimed at letting the market play a role in helping users be more economical with their energy use and protect the environment.

"We will reform the pricing scheme, and launch it according to economic operation to minimize its overall effect," said Zhou Wangjun, deputy chief of the Price Department with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

There has long been criticism that reform of energy and resource pricing is wrongly based on global prices, undermining the buying power of domestic residents as their incomes are relatively low.

"The reform should not be simply regarded as 'raising prices,'" Zhou said in an interview with Xinhua, explaining that it will inevitably push up prices for some energy and resource products as their rates were kept low in the past to facilitate the country's economic development and people's daily lives.

But it would be hard to ensure domestic supply if prices of energy and resources with high dependence rates remained lower than these on global markets, the deputy chief said.

As China became more integrated into the global market, its dependence on imported resources such as oil and iron ore also increased rapidly.

The economy's oil dependence rate has reached 57.5 percent, and its dependence rate of foreign iron ore and natural gas stands at 65 percent and 15 percent, respectively, Zhou noted.

"The government will take a comprehensive consideration of its needs in economic and social development, and social bearing capacity," he went on.

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