4 heating firms hit for pricing violation

China's top economic planner has punished four heating companies for violating pricing rules as it urged local governments to protect public rights amid rising demand in winter.

China’s top economic planner has punished four heating companies for violating pricing rules as it urged local governments to protect public rights amid rising demand in winter.

The National Development and Reform Commission found the heating companies in Heilongjiang, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Shandong provinces breached pricing rules in an investigation which started on December 19, the NDRC said yesterday.

The Heilongjiang company had imposed additional charges of 361,200 yuan (US$55,205) on users when they joined the heating network, while the firms in the other three provinces had arbitrarily demanded higher heating prices and made a profit of over 718,100 yuan.

All the firms have been asked to pay back the illegal income to the users or to hand in it to the local governments. The Heilongjiang firm was also fined 541,900 yuan.

China aims to ensure public rights by monitoring heating prices and supplies, and ordering local governments to beef up investigation into pricing violations.

China’s heating demand has been surging during winter, “especially raising the natural gas prices” after the government asked users to switch from coal to gas, the commission said.

The NDRC has also started an antitrust investigation on December 20 in 17 natural gas heating companies.

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