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Spike in gas imports mystifies officials

Update: February, 29/2012 - 10:42

HA NOI — The country spent US$75 million to import 70,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas in February, the General Statistic Office said on Monday.

Accrued during the first two months of the year, total imports reached 142,000 tonnes, worth $142 million, a rise of 216.5 per cent in value and 203.6 per cent in volume over the same period last year.

The import of such a surging volume was said to be unexplainable, because when gas prices on the world market were low, domestic traders imported only 35,000 tonnes. By the time gas prices spiked again, imports doubled.

Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue said the proposal of the Viet Nam Gas Association to reduce the import tax on gas from 5 to 2 per cent would be considered.

Also in these two months, the domestic retail price rose by more than VND70,000 ($3.3) for a 12-kilogram container. The cause of the increase, gas retailers said, was the rising world prices.

The gas price on the world market was estimated at over $1,000 per tonne, higher than January's import price of $921 per tonne and up against the average import price of $802 late last year.

Meanwhile, the Ha Noi Department of Finance reported two companies selling their products at prices not allowed by watchdogs. These include the Van Loc LPG Import – Export Co, which had to pay VND17.5 million ($833) in fines, and the Gia Dinh Gas Co Ltd, VND30 million ($1,428).

A departmental investigation into retailer re-registration for lifting gas prices in January and February resulted in 30 dossiers from local businesses.

The two violating companies are among the five leading firms in terms of local market share. — VNS

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