Government Priority Should Be to Lower Oil Price

President Lee Myung-bak called on local refineries Thursday to make more efforts to curb oil prices, saying one of the government’s top priorities is to bring rising inflation under control.

“The wisest way to overcome the problem of rising oil prices is to reduce consumption,” Lee told a meeting of government officials, and business and consumer representatives. “I think refineries and gas stations should also cooperate actively when people are suffering.”

Lee said that the government is taking a close look at various sides of oil prices, including how it is distributed, as part of efforts to study ways to lower prices.

The president also said the government will continue such efforts, stressing that he is “concerned about the issue of prices whether awake or asleep.”

High oil prices have been one of the biggest headaches for the government as they directly affect people’s livelihoods. Gasoline was sold at 1,970 won (US$ 1.8) per liter on average in South Korea this week, but prices in Seoul were way over 2,000 won.

Some local refineries have lowered gas prices recently in line with the government’s request.

Efforts to curb inflation gained urgency after data showed last week that consumer prices in South Korea jumped 4.7 percent in March from a year earlier. That represented the fastest on-year hike since October 2008 when it rose 4.8 percent. (PNA/Yonhap)

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