BEIJING, Jan. 26 -- The government is expected to
relax controls over retail oil prices in its domestic market soon, bringing them
more into line with international prices, a National Bureau of Statistics
Li Deshui, head of the National Bureau of Statistics,
told a media briefing in Beijing yesterday that he believes the government will
allow retail oil prices to rise in response to market forces in the near future,
despite the flow-on inflationary effect on the economy.
¡°We should make full play of the market mechanism to
find the real price,¡± he said
¡°That¡¯s one of the reasons we should accelerate the
reform of the price mechanism.¡±
The government has set caps on the prices of retail
oil products in the domestic market to deflect inflationary pressure and cushion
consumers from the full effects of soaring global energy prices.
Oil prices reached a four-month high of US$69.20 per
barrel Monday in the international market, far higher than the prices paid for
the commodity by domestic users.
Li gave no timetable for the long-awaited reform,
saying only that it should occur step by step.
He also said that China¡¯s net imports of crude and
refined oil last year dropped 5.3 percent year on year, and welcomed the
downturn as a sign that the country is using the resource more efficiently.
The country¡¯s rate of consumption of crude and
refined oil last year was also down 0.5 percent compared with a growth of 15.3
percent a year earlier.
¡°With gross domestic product growth at 9.9 percent,
the drop is very encouraging. This means China¡¯s economy can maintain high
growth with a significant fall in natural resources consumption,¡± Li said.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily/Agencies)