SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering temporarily lowering fuel taxes to ease consumer burden from surging gasoline prices, the country’s top economic policymaker said Wednesday.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the government will unveil relevant actions, including a fuel tax cut, as early as next week.
“As the international oil prices are on the rise, driving up gasoline prices and putting upward pressure on consumer prices, we are considering such preemptive measures as a fuel tax cut,” Hong told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit.
“At a time when oil prices have exceeded US$80 per barrel, relevant actions will be taken as early as next week.”
Hong said that crude oil prices have risen to the highest level since October 2018 and the prices will not likely go down any time soon.
Prices of Dubai crude, South Korea’s benchmark, reached a near three-year high of $82.28 a barrel last week, up from an average of $72.63 in September.
Gasoline prices at the pump in South Korea stood at around 1,736.5 won ($1.48) per liter as of early Wednesday, according to the state-run Korea National Oil Corp.
In November 2018, the government temporarily cut fuel taxes, when gas prices advanced to as high as 1,690.3 won.
South Korea depends on imports for its energy needs. Taxes account for around 40 percent of local gasoline prices.