Vietnam motorists being cheated at the pump

Hanoi – Motorists in southern Vietnam are being shortchanged at the pump as more and more petrol stations are cheating customers, state news reported Saturday. Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology estimated that customers are being cheated out of 32 million dollars a year, the report said.

Much of the fuel losses occur because the petrol is adulterated or substandard, Vo Viet Ha, a city inspector told a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday.

Police recently cited 11 petrol stations accused of selling adulterated fuel but they say it is difficult to track down distributors because stations get their supplies from multiple sources, the Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Customers are also being cheated on the amount of fuel they put in their tanks. Increasingly sophisticated gadgets make tampering with meters relatively easy. The devices can be quickly removed when inspectors show up.

In most cases, police only slap fines on those caught adulterating fuel or tampering with meters, which experts at the conference said was not enough to deter violators.

Despite the fact that global fuel prices have fallen by more than half, from a high of 147 dollars per barrel in July, the price per litre in Vietnam has only decreased by 7 per cent.

Prices at the pump are still 20 percent higher than they were earlier this year. Importers say they have to keep prices high because they took huge losses when global fuel prices skyrocketed.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/242829,vietnam-motorists-being-cheated-at-the-pump.html

Vietnam lifts fuel prices, raises inflation risk

HANOI, July 21 (Reuters) – Vietnam raised domestic fuel prices by as much as 36 percent on Monday, the first hike in five months, raising the spectre of even higher inflation, more interest rate rises and slower economic growth.

The steep increase in the price of petrol and diesel came as a shock to consumers, many of whom were seen thronging gas stations before the new prices came into effect at 0300 GMT.

Less than two weeks ago, the government had ruled out rises in fuel prices for the rest of this year, suggesting it preferred to bear the cost of subsiding gasoline rather than pushing consumer prices any higher.

But retail gasoline prices were raised by 31 percent on Monday. A litre of the popular 92-octane gasoline grade now retails at 19,000 dong ($1.15) per litre, up from 14,500 dong per litre previously, an official from top importer and retailer Petrolimex said.

Petrolimex also raised retail prices of diesel by 14.3 percent to 15,950 dong ($0.97) per litre and the price for fuel oil by 36.8 percent to 13,000 dong ($0.79).

“When international oil prices are this high, the principle of community responsibility must be implemented to share the hardship between the government, organisations and consumers,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

It estimated the government would have to cover a loss of $3.2 billion this year even after Monday’s fuel price rises if world crude prices stayed above $145 per barrel.

Vietnam’s retail gasoline prices are still below those in other parts of Asia, such as Singapore and Sri Lanka. Still, people on the street were dismayed.

“We are not getting any support for the petrol price hike from the company,” a taxi driver said as he tried to move his car hopelessly in the noisy crowd in front of a petrol station in Hanoi that had brought traffic to a standstill.

The driver failed to reach the petrol pump before Petrolimex staff changed their selling prices at 0300 GMT.

STRAINS ON ECONOMY

Vietnam, which has been severely strained by double-digit inflation for eight consecutive months and a widening trade deficit, had subsidised fuel consumption by keeping prices unchanged since February as it sought to rein in inflation.

“It makes sense for fuel prices to go up in line with world oil prices but as a result inflation will remain on the rise,” Tai Hui, an economist at Standard Chartered in Singapore said.

Vietnam’s inflation raced to multi-year highs this year, hitting an annual rate of 26.8 percent in June as food prices soared, forcing the government to cut its 2008 growth target to 7 percent from 8.5-9 percent.

Irvin Seah, an economist with DBS Bank, said it was likely inflation will rise beyond 30 percent in August, and there would be another 2 percentage point rise in Vietnam’s base lending rate for banks, now at 14 percent. Seah also forecast GDP growth in 2008 would fall to 6.4 percent.

Vietnam, which relies almost entirely on oil product imports as it lacks major refineries, paid nearly $5.9 billion for imported fuel in the first half of this year, or 69 percent more than the same period last year, as crude oil raced to a record high over $147 a barrel on July 11.

For a FACTBOX on state-regulated fuel prices in Asia, click on [ID:nSP37494].

For a FACTBOX on subsidies offered by different countries on oil, click on [ID:nSP186344] ($1=16,500 dong) (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh and Nguyen Nhat Lam, editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Ben Tan)

Vietnamese inflation up 15.67 percent in February

http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2008/02/28/afx4707229.html

HANOI (Thomson Financial) – Vietnamese consumer prices rose more than 15 percent year-on-year in February, according to official figures released Thursday, heightening inflation concerns especially for the poor.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) said the consumer price index (CPI) for February rose 15.67 percent compared to the same period last year.

The figure was the highest registered year-on-year increase for February in the last decade, said a GSO economist who declined to be named.

The GSO said February food prices rose 25.2 percent year-on-year, with rice and other grains increasing by 17.7 percent.

Communist Vietnam wants to restrict consumer price hikes to no higher than planned economic growth of between 8.5 to 9.0 percent for the year.

But on Monday Hanoi hiked fuel prices at the pump by 11 percent to cope with record world oil prices of more than 100 US dollars a barrel.

A finance ministry official, who declined to be named, said the rise was designed to combat oil smuggling between Vietnam and neighbouring countries.

However, it also raised fears of worsening inflation.

‘Fuel price hikes will surely push up prices for other products,’ Nguyen Minh Phong at the Institute for Social Economic Studies told a local newspaper.

Vietnam raises retail fuel prices by nearly 15 percent

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iBtJFJWXFG5YlbFWKta0VuMvbdDg 

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam hiked fuel prices at the pump by almost 15 percent Thursday, raising fears of worsening inflation, to cope with world oil prices that are nearing 100 dollars per barrel.

The price per litre of petrol rose 1,700 dong (0.11 dollars) to a 13,000-13,300 dong (0.80-0.82 dollars) band under a decision by the finance, and trade and industry ministries, the government said on its official website.

Without the price hike, losses of trading enterprises would have spiralled to 12,000 billion dong (740 million dollars) for the year, Deputy Finance Minister Tran Van Ta was quoted as saying by the VNExpress online newspaper.

“The trading enterprises and the government could not stand (the losses) anymore. Therefore, consumers need to share the burden,” he said.

Fuel trading enterprises in Vietnam were allowed in April to set their own retail prices to better compete and respond to market changes, but the communist government reserved the right to intervene when necessary.

Oil retreated below 98 US dollars in Asian trade Thursday after rising to a new peak of 99.29 dollars per barrel on Wednesday.

Experts in Vietnam worry that the increase in retail oil prices will help raise the consumer price index, which the government wants to keep below the targeted 8.5 percent annual economic growth for 2007.

In October, consumer prices rose 9.34 percent year-on-year, the General Statistics Office said. The increasing cost of living has sparked public anger and criticism in the national assembly.

Vietnam has vast oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea and is a major exporter of crude oil, but the country currently lacks major operating refineries and must import all petroleum products.