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April 10, 2001
(Mines and Energy)
(Government Services and Lands)


Government outlines key elements of Gas Price Regulation Bill

Mines and Energy Minister Lloyd Matthews and Government Services and Lands Minister Walter Noel today outlined key elements of government's plan to regulate gas prices. This is further to the second reading of Bill 4, an Act Regarding Petroleum Prices, on which debate began in yesterday's session of the House of Assembly.

Minister Matthews said: "Our intention with the introduction of this Bill is to restore consumer confidence. This system of regulation will ensure that price changes occur on a regular basis and that increases and decreases occur when warranted. 

"The main elements of the Bill include the establishment of an independent Petroleum Products Price Commissioner with the ability to set maximum retail and wholesale prices. It also provides for the implementation of a binding and automatic market-based price adjustment mechanism. The commissioner will also have the ability to provide for non-market related adjustments."

Mr. Noel said: "Petroleum prices have been the subject of considerable debate over the past few years. We have seen substantial and frequent fluctuations in prices � often within days of each other � attributable to the volatility of the markets. Consumers are dissatisfied and lack confidence in the way petroleum products are priced. People want a greater level of certainty. It is our intention to respond to that wish and help restore consumer confidence. 

"While this process will provide greater consumer confidence and less fluctuation, it is important for consumers to realize that it will not guarantee lower prices."

Mr. Matthews said that it would not be realistic to expect uniform prices across the entire province. "Different areas of the province will require varying prices due to such things as higher transportation costs. We will attempt to establish five to 10 price zones to ensure a fair price for everyone.

"Government hopes to have the legislation passed and in effect by the third weekend of May. Since this is a consumer affairs issue, the commissioner will report to the Minister of Government Services and Lands."

Media contacts:    Darrell Mercer - Mines and Energy (709) 729-5777
                           Rick Callahan - Government Services and Lands (709) 729-4860

2001 04 10                                   11:05 a.m.

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