Cooking gas rise spurs widespread complaints

The Energy Policy and Planning Office said new cooking gas price rise effective Sunday has spurred  numerous complaints from consumers and gas retailers with claim of confused registration and  unfairness.

The office deputy director Natee Thapmanee said most complaints were from consumers with right to buy cheap gas but could not  fetch low price gas  from  retailing shops which have registered to join the cheap-gas scheme sponsored by the Ministry of Energy. At the same time many customers with no right for cheap gas also did not know if they have the same right to buy.

Many people still did not understand and kept complaining about which retailing shops joined the scheme or whether they could enjoy right for cheap gas, he said.

He explained that  the cheap gas scheme allowed qualified consumers to buy cooking gas at original price or at 18.13 baht/kilo. Now the price rose 50 satang/kilo and became effective September 1.

Under the cheap gas scheme, groups qualified for the right must be household which uses maximum 90 watt of electricity/month which now has about 7 million households, and those without electricity supply comprising up to 180,000 households. Another qualified group is food vendors comprising of about 160,000 vendors.

He said that currently the ministry still open registration for some 38,000 gas retailing shops to register and join the cheap gas scheme.

He added that registration would take time before things could improve.

Meanwhile Commerce Minister Yanyong  Puangrat said he has ordered the Internal Trade Department to dispatch 15 special task force teams to inspect the gas filling stations and retailing shops regularly  as well as to receive complaints from the people about price tags displaying which many shops did not display.

Any retailing shop failing to display price tags on cooking gas faces one year imprisonment or a fine of not more than 40,000 baht, he said and added that profiteering gas price also faces a fine.