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NDRC to speed fuel pricing

By Song Shengxia (Global Times)

08:24, March 07, 2013

China is considering ways to introduce a new fuel pricing system that will allow it to respond more quickly to oil price changes in the global market, the head of the country's top economic planner announced Wednesday.

"The current fuel pricing mechanism fails to reflect the fluctuation of international crude oil prices in a timely manner," said Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature.

According to China's fuel pricing formula, which was introduced in 2009, the government may consider readjusting fuel prices if the moving average price for a basket of internationally traded crudes changes more than 4 percent over a period of 22 working days.

"We plan to shorten the 22-working-day reference period to make it reflect the frequent changes of international crude oil prices, and remove the 4-percent fluctuation threshold," Zhang said.

"The comment from the head of the NDRC means that the reference period for oil price adjustment in the country will be shortened to 10 days or even shorter," Han Jingyuan, an analyst at Beijing-based energy information provider JYD Commodities Hub Co, told the Global Times Wednesday.

"Removal of the 4-percent fluctuation threshold will make oil price adjustment more timely and regular. Given the influence of the interest rate, public opinion and inflationary pressure in the country, a special measure will be introduced in the oil pricing system to buffer against fast price changes," Han said.

The NDRC, which oversees the adjustment of China's fuel prices, announced it would raise fuel prices from February 25 against a downward movement of international crude oil prices, triggering widespread criticism from many who said the response was too slow.

In 2012, the NDRC raised fuel prices four times and cut them four times based on the current pricing mechanism.

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