Zhongxin Finance, May 1. According to the official website of the National Development and Reform Commission, recently, the relevant responsible comrades of the National Development and Reform Commission answered reporters’ questions about the announcement on the clarification of the price-gouging behavior of operators in the coal field. The full text of the answers is as follows:

Q: What are the main considerations for issuing the Announcement?

  A: Coal is an important primary product related to the national economy and people's livelihood. Coal power accounts for about 60% of my country's total power generation. Stabilizing coal prices is of great significance to stabilizing electricity prices and the economy.

In the autumn and winter of last year, the price of coal rose sharply, affecting the supply of energy and increasing the cost of economic operation.

In order to promote the reasonable return of coal prices, in February this year, our commission issued the "Notice on Further Improving the Coal Market Price Formation Mechanism" (Fa Gai Price [2022] No. 303) (hereinafter referred to as Document No. 303), in order to insist that coal prices should be determined by the market. On the basis of the formation, a reasonable range of medium and long-term transaction prices for coal (domestic thermal coal, the same below) is proposed.

Among them, special emphasis is placed on resolutely curbing excessive capital speculation and malicious speculation, and promptly investigating and punishing market entities for fabricating, disseminating information on price increases, and hoarding and other illegal acts of driving up prices.

  Price gouging is considered to be one of the important reasons for this round of irrational rise in coal prices.

Judging from years of practice, the current price laws, regulations and policies are relatively principled in the expression of price-gouging behavior, and lack specific provisions, which causes market players to have a unclear understanding of the boundaries of illegality, and fails to guide enterprises to operate in compliance with laws and regulations. Difficulty in identifying violations.

In view of this, in order to implement the relevant requirements of using market-oriented and legalized methods put forward by the executive meeting of the State Council to guide the operation of coal prices within a reasonable range, the National Development and Reform Commission organized special forces to systematically sort out domestic and foreign laws and regulations on price violations. and supervision practices, held many economic and legal expert symposiums for research and demonstration, repeatedly listened to the opinions of relevant enterprises and associations in the coal and power industries, and solicited opinions from relevant departments, in-depth understanding of the concerns of all parties, and comprehensively considering the basis of opinions from all aspects. , drafted and formed the "Announcement".

The "Announcement" highlights the problem orientation. Under the framework of existing laws and regulations, it is closely linked with the relevant national policies, and clarifies four specific behaviors of operators in the coal field to drive up prices, providing clear guidelines for relevant operators to operate in compliance with laws and regulations. Conducive to standardizing the coal market order and stabilizing market expectations.

Q: What are the specific manifestations of price gouging in the coal sector?

  Answer: The "Announcement" is based on the "Price Law", "Regulations on Administrative Penalties for Price Violations", and the "Implementation Measures for Administrative Penalties for Price Violations" and other relevant laws, regulations and policies, combined with the main characteristics and outstanding problems of price-gouging violations in the coal sector. Four specific manifestations and comprehensive considerations of coal operators' fabrication and dissemination of price increase information, hoarding, and large or disguised price hikes without justifiable reasons.

details as follows:

  One is to fabricate price increase information.

The main manifestations are: fictitious information about tight supply or surging market demand, fictitious information that other operators have or are preparing to raise prices, fictitious purchase cost and other information that may push up coal price expectations.

The second is to disseminate information on price increases.

The main manifestations are: spreading fabricated price increase information, spreading information calling or inducing other operators to raise coal prices, and spreading other information that may push up coal price expectations.

The third is hoarding.

The main manifestations are: the coal produced or purchased is not sold in time, and the quantity or period of storage obviously exceeds the normal amount without justifiable reasons.

Fourth, the prices have been substantially increased without justifiable reasons or in a disguised form.

The main manifestations are: under the circumstance that the cost of coal production and purchase has not increased significantly, the price is greatly increased or the price increase is significantly higher than that of the normal year to sell coal to the outside world; Or induce sales targets to entrust them to purchase high-priced coal; increase coal prices in a disguised form by unreasonably increasing transportation costs or charging other fees; A substantial increase in coal prices.

Q: How to judge the "substantially increase the price" mentioned above?

  A: When listening to the opinions of relevant enterprises and associations in the coal and electric power industries, all parties believe that it is necessary to clarify relatively quantitative indicators for how to judge the "substantial increase in price" in price gouging, so that enterprises can follow it.

In view of the fact that Document No. 303 has clarified the reasonable range of medium and long-term coal transaction prices, this range is determined after fully considering the cost, taking into account the upstream and downstream interests of coal and electricity, and properly connecting with the market-based electricity price mechanism for coal and electricity. The Announcement is based on the upper limit of the above reasonable range and proposes that there is one of the following situations, and there is no legitimate reason, it can generally be regarded as price gouging: (1) The mid- and long-term transaction sales price of coal by operators exceeds the relevant national or local documents. (2) The coal spot transaction sales price of the operator exceeds 50% of the upper limit of the reasonable range of the medium and long-term transaction price specified in the relevant national or local documents.

In this regard, relevant enterprises and associations in the coal and power industries believe that the above judgment criteria are in line with coal production costs and market supply and demand, and are in line with the long-term interests of both coal and power companies.

Q: What positive role will the Announcement play?

  A: After the release of the Announcement, we believe that it will play a positive role in the following aspects: First, it is conducive to regulating corporate behavior. The Announcement clarifies the red line of supervision and provides clear behavioral guidelines for coal enterprises. Coal enterprises should actively follow them. , restricting its own business behavior.

Second, it is conducive to social supervision. All sectors of society can report to the law enforcement departments for illegal and illegal behaviors such as price gouging by operators.

Third, it is conducive to strengthening law enforcement. The National Development and Reform Commission will pay close attention to the situation of the coal market, actively promote relevant departments to increase the supervision and inspection of market prices, and strictly investigate and deal with violations of laws and regulations such as price gouging in the coal field, and typical cases are publicly exposed. .

Through the joint efforts of all parties, the coal market will return to rationality, the coal price will return to a reasonable range, the energy cost of downstream enterprises will be stabilized, and the economy will run smoothly.

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