MEXICO CITY, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Mexican fuel prices are likely to rise in 2017 due to the impending liberalization of the market, the chief executive of state oil firm Pemex said on Thursday.
For years, fuel prices were set by the government in Mexico, but the energy regulatory commission said on Wednesday a staggered liberalization of prices will begin at the end of March and extend through the remainder of 2017.
When asked in an interview on local television if a bank's projections that fuel prices would rise substantially due to the liberalization were accurate, Pemex Chief Executive Officer Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya said he did not want to speculate.
However, when asked whether there would be an increase of 3 percent, he said: "No, I think it will be a bit more than that". Then when asked whether it could be about 15-20 percent, he answered: "Look, more or less, I wouldn't like to speculate."
Mexico's central bank has already flagged the risk that the fuel price changes could fan inflation in 2017. Data released on Thursday showed that consumer prices rose faster in the first half of December than economists had forecast. (Reporting by Dave Graham and Veronica Gomez Editing by W Simon)