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Gov't not planning to raise diesel prices to combat fine dust: finance ministry

The South Korean government has no plan to raise diesel prices in the near future as it tries to reduce fine dust levels in the air, the finance ministry said Monday.

"We have considered many scenarios related to tax rate hikes for diesel, but all have been found to be ineffective," Deputy Finance Minister for tax and customs affairs Choi Young-rok said in a briefing. "The government has no plan to raise taxes levied on diesel fuel."

Currently, the price of diesel fuel sells at around 85 percent of that of gasoline. Fuel taxes and other various tariffs are levied on diesel and gasoline, with such taxes accounting for some 60 percent of the fuel prices. His comments came after local media reported that the finance ministry is considering an option to mark up taxes on diesel.

Dealing with fine dust has emerged as one of the most pressing issues facing the country, which has been struggling with bad air especially in the spring season when prevailing winds bring in polluted air from China.

Diesel cars and old coal-fired power plants have been cited as contributing factors to worsening air conditions.

President Moon Jae-in pledged during his presidential campaign that he would reduce domestic fine dust emissions by 30 percent by the end of his term by shutting down old coal-fired power plants and reducing the number of diesel cars on the street. (Yonhap)
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