May 18, 2004
(Government Services)


The following statement was issued today by Dianne Whalen, Minister of Government Services. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I rise today to inform this House of government�s decision regarding the structure of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission. I am announcing today that the operations of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission will be integrated with the Public Utilities Board.

The Public Utilities Board will now be responsible for regulating fuel prices, in addition to hydro and auto insurance rates. The Public Utilities Board has the experience, expertise and procedures in place for rate regulation.

The position of commissioner for the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission will no longer be required. The contract of the current commissioner expires May 25. A petroleum products pricing office of the Public Utilities Board will remain in Grand Falls-Windsor. Existing staff of the commission will continue to be an asset to the fuel pricing operation.

We are integrating the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission with the Public Utilities Board to improve efficiency and reduce the costs charged back to the petroleum industry and ultimately onto the consumer.

We want to remove any perception of political interference in fuel price regulation that may have existed in the past. As an independent or arms� length agency, the Public Utilities Board will provide that necessary autonomy.

We are committed to fuel price regulation to ensure fairness, stability and transparency of pricing for resellers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers.

A survey conducted by the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission in August of 2003 showed that 78 per cent of consumers want fuel price regulation. This restructuring will result in little or no disruption in service, and minimal impact on staff.

Government has instructed that legislation be drafted to give effect to the proposed changes. Public Utilities Board chairman Robert Noseworthy will be appointed commissioner until the legislation can be passed in this House.

Government will be asking the Public Utilities Board to do an operational review of gas pricing regulation to ensure the concerns of all interested and industry parties are being addressed.

The costs of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission and the Public Utilities Board are totally recoverable from industry.

2004 05 18                                         2:05 p.m.

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