|A gas station closed down in Phú Hòa District in the southern province of Phú Yên. VNA/VNS Photo Công Mạo|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) continue to trade blame for the disrupted petrol supply in the domestic market.
MoF said it gave the green light for two price adjustments since the beginning of October to raise petrol prices by VND350 per litre and transport costs by VND290 on October 7.
However, MoF said it has not been able to meet MoIT's demand as the latter failed to send a cost report to justify further adjustments. As soon as such information becomes available, MoF, upon completion of their own due diligence research, both on the books and on-site, will make the final decision.
Furthermore, MoF said it stands by the decision to stop all petrol traders, who have not met their financial duties to the State and other requirements per current regulations, from clearing customs for their cargo. The General Department of Vietnam Customs has received instruction to work 24/7, national holidays included, to help traders once all said duties and requirements are met.
According to MoF, of the four traders who were reportedly not allowed to clear customs, the Xuyen Viet Oil Travel and Transport Trading Co. Ltd have accumulated more than VNĐ684 billion (US$27.5 million) in import duties. A decision made earlier to stop this company's operation is legal and in accordance with the country's tax regulations.
Another company, the NSH Petro Co. Ltd was found to have failed to install electronic monitor systems for their storage as requested by the general department after numerous reminders.
Finance minister Hồ Đức Phớc said his ministry has been and will continue supporting all traders and retailers with the ultimate goal of ensuring an ample supply of petrol for the domestic market and industrial production.
Cargo from two other traders is going through quality inspection under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
"Quality inspection is under the Directorate for Standard, Metrology and Quality's jurisdiction," said an MoF spokesperson.
MoF said other than the above-mentioned four traders, all others, who meet their financial duties and operational requirements, face no restrictions in import activities. MoF said MoIT, which oversees petrol traders' operations, must urge traders to quickly comply with current regulations and meet their financial duties.
Commenting on traders' grievances, economist Ngô Trí Long said prices have been raised to cover rising operational costs several times but a long-term solution must require traders to seek new suppliers and make an effort to reduce costs.
According to MoIT, Việt Nam's petrol reserves stood at 1.255 million cubic metres on September 30. The country's two largest refineries Bình Sơn and Nghi Sơn's total output of 1.3 million cubic metres were enough to meet 80 per cent of domestic market demand in October. Some 34 traders were tasked with importing the remaining 20 per cent, calculated at half a million cubic metres.
The main issue remains with a delay between petrol prices in the domestic and international markets, making traders lose money when they imported at higher prices in the previous cycle but were forced to sell at lower prices before prices could be adjusted.
"As prices continued to fluctuate, it ate into traders' profit. Imagine how motivated they can be when have to face a thinner profit margin, even financial loss," said minister of industry and trade Nguyễn Hồng Diên.
In addition, traders' credit room has not been expanded in recent months while the global oil price has doubled.
"Oil price has gone up from $50-60 a barrel to significantly higher, double at times but credit room stayed the same," said the minister.
A number of gas stations, mostly in southern provinces, have been closed in recent weeks with traders citing financial losses and difficulties in clearance for petrol imports. — VNS