Tags: AS | China | Economy

China Bans Hoarding Oil, Coal to Curb High Prices

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 07:02 AM

China is banning hoarding of oil, coal and other key commodities, seeking to ensure supplies and cool prices that have surged to politically volatile levels despite repeated moves to curb inflation.

The moves reported by state media Tuesday are Beijing's latest effort to counter unease over inflation that jumped to a 25-month high of 4.4 percent in October. Authorities want to reassure a nervous public that the government can handle inflation pressures that some worry could spiral out of control.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China's main economic planning agency, forbade provinces from limiting shipments of coal beyond their borders, ordering them to ensure stable supplies. The Commerce Ministry, meanwhile, ordered local authorities to crack down on hoarding of oil, gasoline and other fuels, on bogus, or shill, bids meant to drive prices higher, and other illegal practices.

Authorities say soaring food prices — which jumped more than 10 percent in October — are mainly to blame for the current bout of inflation, but costs for fuel and other necessities have also jumped, as supplies have run short.

Coal, which fuels about three-quarters of the country's electricity generation, is a special concern, especially in winter months when it also is used in heating systems in the north.

Much of the coal is mined in north-central China and then shipped to big cities, utility plants and factories in the eastern coastal regions.

The planning agency complained that some areas, which it did not name, were requiring coal traders to obtain special permits before they can ship coal. "Coal production in some places is rather chaotic and supplies from small mines are unstable," it said.

Seeking to counter widespread shortages of diesel, the Commerce Ministry issued a raft of orders aimed at improving monitoring of supplies and what it calls "market order."

"Oil is important to the people's livelihood strategies for goods and materials, local competent commercial departments at all levels should fully understand the market supply of refined oil security, stability, the importance of oil prices," said a notice posted on the ministry's website.

It urged officials to show a "stronger sense of responsibility." The government has already ordered state-owned refiners to step up production amid signs they were holding back in anticipation of a rise in government-controlled retail prices.

Diesel supplies already were running low after thousands of factories bought diesel generators to cope with power cuts imposed by authorities to meet energy-saving goals, further boosting demand.

Stable fuel supplies are a crucial link in the government's war on inflation, since farmers need diesel fuel to run tractors and other farm equipment.

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China is banning hoarding of oil, coal and other key commodities, seeking to ensure supplies and cool prices that have surged to politically volatile levels despite repeated moves to curb inflation.The moves reported by state media Tuesday are Beijing's latest effort to...
AS,China,Economy
431
2010-02-23
Tuesday, 23 Nov 2010 07:02 AM
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