Democrats ask opposition to censure energy minister over rising fuel prices

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A coalition MP on Monday asked the opposition to grill the energy minister at the upcoming censure debate over rising fuel prices.

“There are around 20 coalition MPs who are not satisfied with the management of the energy prices and this is the failure of the energy minister,” the Democrat MP for Ratchaburi, Akkaradej Wongpitakroj, told reporters at the parliament building.

The government is facing heavy pressure from inflation caused by rising global energy prices. The opposition said the government failed to properly manage the economy and it is leading to rising living costs.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party last week asked House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to inspect the no-confidence petition, saying that a name of a minister was added after the petition was already signed.

Chuan said on Monday the opposition has the right to add or take out any name they want but said that it will take at least a week to inspect the documents.

Akkaradej said since the House Speaker is already inspecting the petition, the opposition should now add Supattanapong to the list to avoid another complication later.

He said the government failed to hold the diesel price below 30 baht per litre before lifting the ceiling to 35 baht per litre while low-income earners and businesses, who have yet to recover from the economic impacts of the Covid-18 pandemic, are suffering even more.

He also said the latest revelation that the government failed to control the oil refinery margin which increased from the average of two baht a litre to five baht per litre in recent months is also another point that the energy minister has to answer in parliament.

In response to the revelation, Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said last Friday asked oil refineries to donate their excess profits to support the Oil Fuel Fund for around eight billion baht per month in the third quarter to help control fuel prices.

“The minister has to explain why he said in parliament before that the government cannot use PTT’s profits from their refineries to help the people because it is against the law but now he is saying that they could lower their prices,” Akkaradej said.

Chuan said on Monday that the censure debate could take place around July 18.

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