BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhuanet) -- China's next oil price adjustment is expected to happen around the 25th this month.
The public is urging more timely action this time though, especially after China's top economic planner hinted reforming the pricing mechanism.
Under China's current pricing system - which was introduced back in 2009, domestic fuel prices are only adjusted when prices of overseas crude oil change by more than 4 percent over 22 working days.
"We will raise or cut fuel prices more swiftly and make our fuel pricing mechanism more flexible and more adaptive to fluctuations in global oil prices."
The comments by Zhang Ping, who's the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, came amid growing complaints from car owners.
"We see prices of crude oil fluctuate, but changes in our domestic fuel prices always lag behind."
"Hikes are frequent; cuts are rare, no doubt. That suggests there're problems in the pricing mechanism."
The prices were last adjusted on February 25th, when the week-long Chinese New Year disrupted the 22-business-day cycle which had already come and gone about a week previous to that.
In fact, on many occasions international oil prices may have dropped, but China's prices went up.
However, Zhou Dadi, a researcher with the top economic planning agency NDRC says the international price isn't the only deciding factor here.
"We formed our price based on the international crude oil price; however, other elements are also put into consideration such as cost of domestic oil refining, transportation and marketing. Meanwhile, we also left a room for taxes and a reasonable profit for oil firms."
Han Xiaoping, Deputy Secretary General of the China Enterprises Investment Association, says the government may actually have a critical role here as well.
"The government has to step in when it comes to oil prices as the market is dominated by PetroChina and Sinopec. If the government step aside, oil prices may skyrocket. However, by doing so, the NDRC has excluded private companies from entering the sector and so the monopoly lingers."
Private firms, on the other hand, are concerned about the new reform plan which may see prices changed more frequently, and even make it tougher for them to access oil products.
Private oil firms, mostly in rural China, are also hoping to be able to import refined oil products.
According to the oil industry agency, Petroleum Circulation Committee, 1 out of 6 private wholesalers currently don't even have enough oil supply to meet demand.
There are 46 thousand privately-owned oil stations in China, making up a third of the nation's total retail sales volume.