April 18, 2001
(Government Services and Lands)
Minister holds productive meeting with Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices
The province's Minister of Government Services and Lands met today with the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices to discuss Bill 4, an Act Regarding Petroleum Prices, now before the House of Assembly. Walter Noel described the meeting as extremely productive. "It was open and frank. We reviewed the proposed legislation, discussed the role of the commissioner, and considered appropriate regulations.
"I pointed out that government's goal is to restore consumer confidence through putting regulations in place to ensure that price changes occur on a regular basis and that prices are justifiable. We agreed that the office of the commissioner must have the ability and flexibility to get the job done in a transparent manner that is acceptable to consumers.
"We also agreed that the main purpose of this bill is to provide greater consumer confidence and less price fluctuation. The process should ensure reasonable prices are charged, but it will not guarantee lower prices unless existing prices are deemed to be unwarranted. Prices will remain primarily determined by world oil prices.
"The group felt, at this time, that price adjustments would be most beneficial if they occurred on a monthly basis, but it was agreed the commissioner should make the final decision.
"The office of the commissioner will conduct further research on these and other issues prior to establishing detailed pricing mechanisms. This, of course, will be carried out in consultation with all affected parties. The additional research and consultation will take place over the next several months.
"I want to assure citizens, however, that government is committed to addressing consumer concerns prior to the summer driving season. As a result, even though it will be necessary to engage in a consultation process, the bill provides for setting maximum wholesale and retail prices at a prescribed level during this summer period.
"I would like to thank the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices for their support, dedication to helping regulate prices, and their thorough presentation. I look forward to continuing our cooperation on this project."
Media contact: Rick Callahan, Director of Communications, (709) 729-4860.
2001 04 18