Nov 13, 2012

Vietnam - Ministers deny cutting fuel price to ease Q&A pressure

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Fuel price cuts have been released simultaneously with the convention of the National Assembly multiple times, but the two ministers in charge of the reduction said it is only a random coincidence.

On November 11 the retailing price of A92 gasoline was slashed by VND500 per liter to VND23,150, the first cutback since late August, according to a decision issued the same day by the Ministries of Finance, and Industry and Trade.

The price reduction was released just one day before the two ministers addressed delegates at the question and answer session held during the NA convention in Hanoi, where the coincidence between the cut and the Q&A session came under question.

“I still remember that a similar price cut was released at the NA 3rd meeting session, and now one more was announced last night,” delegate Do Van Duong from Ho Chi Minh City said to begin his question.

“So I’d like to ask the Ministers of Finance and Industry and Trade if this is an accidental coincidence, or a flexible solution of you two ahead of this Q&A session,” he challenged the ministers.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang replied, “Maybe it’s only a random case.”
“With the responsibility assigned by the NA and the government, I don’t think we can have such a flexible solution as the delegate said.

“Simply speaking, when global prices went down, we had to cut domestic prices,” he concluded.

His finance counterpart added, “It seems like the NA meeting has something to do with fuel prices, as the delegate has implied.

“But this is a very open and transparent issue: we just reduce prices whenever possible,” he said.

Yet to receive audit report

The delegates also posed questions regarding a recent report by the State Audit of Vietnam (SAV) which discovered that the fuel wholesaler Petrolimex still grants high salaries to its chief executives despite the huge losses it has incurred.

But Hoang said he has yet to receive the official report from the SAV.

Similarly, when asked by delegate Nguyen Minh Hong from Nghe An whether or not Petrolimex will have to review its operations with loss, Hoang reiterated that the ministry will only do so once they receive the audit report.

In regards to fuel quality, Hoang said the initial solution should be to strictly control imports as 70 percent of the fuel commodities consumed in the country are imported products.

“Loose management will open the door for poor quality fuel to enter the country,” he said.

“We have detected some cases but due to the light penalties, prevention is ineffective.

“We will petition the government to review the issue,” he said.


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