Thailand to extend cap on diesel prices to help consumers

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A worker grabs a nozzle at a PTT gas station in Bangkok, Thailand, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

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BANGKOK, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Thailand will extend its diesel price cap of 30 baht ($0.8987) per litre beyond this month, its deputy prime minister said on Wednesday, as global oil prices put a strain on consumers and an economy struggling from the pandemic.

The support will be financed by the country's oil fund and a loan, Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who is also energy minister, told a news conference.

He did not provide a timeframe for how long the price cap, which was due to end this month, would be in place.

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However, the current oil fund of about 9 billion baht ($269.5 million) and a loan of 20 billion baht should support the price freeze for four to five months, if global oil prices stay at $87.5 per barrel, Supattanapong said.

"By that time, we expect oil prices to gradually fall due to a warmer climate," he said.

If the funds are still insufficient, however, the energy ministry will work with the finance ministry on other measures, including a possible excise tax cut, Supattanapong said.

"The government is hoping this will ease consumers' concerns. The situation is unfavourable as global oil prices have risen almost every day in October," he said.

The government will also try to freeze prices of liquefied petroleum gas at least until January, he added.

($1 = 33.38 baht)

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Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Martin Petty

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