Lawmakers take trade ministry to task over gasoline shortage

By Anh Minh   November 2, 2022 | 03:58 am PT
Lawmakers take trade ministry to task over gasoline shortage
An employee prepares to pump gasoline at a fuel station in Ho Chi Minh City on October 11, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
The Ministry of Industry and Trade should take responsibility in regulating the fuel market instead of pushing this task on other government bodies, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Although several agencies are involved in managing the fuel market, the trade ministry needs to take the lead in this duty, and should be responsible for the recent shortages, said Tran Van Lam, a member of the National Assembly’s Finance and Budget Committee.

The ministry needs to react more quickly to market developments and gather enough information on issues to propose solutions, he said on the sideline of the ongoing National Assembly meeting.

Lam said that that the fuel shortage that has been plaguing Vietnam in recent weeks is unusual.

As of Tuesday nearly 20% of 550 fuel stations in HCMC recorded an inventory shortage.

In Hanoi, several stations Tuesday put up signs stating "out of gasoline." Some limited sales to VND30,000-50,000 ($1.21-2.01) per motorbike, while others did not sell to cars.

"Global oil prices are relatively stable, but there are unusual issues happening in the domestic market. We need to find out why," Lam said.

Hoang Van Cuong, a member of the same committee, said that management is responsible for recent disruptions in fuel supply.

Other countries are not experiencing the same problems. Vietnam even has its own two refineries that meet 70% of domestic demand, he said.

"Collaboration between the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Finance in sourcing inventory, trading and price management is poor."

The two ministries on Tuesday raised gasoline prices for the third straight time in a row, hoping to provide retailers a higher commission.

But retailers remain in difficulties.

"We only receive 50% of what we have delivered. We are still making losses as our commission remains zero," said the leader of a retailer with 17 outlets in Ho Chi Minh City, who asked not be identified.

Tung, who owns a franchise of a major distributor in Hanoi, said that a delivery truck only comes every two or three days, which is why his station must limit sales.

Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien said last week that Vietnam is not facing fuel shortages, as its 3 million cubic meters are enough to serve domestic demand until the end of November.

The fuel market in Vietnam is regulated by both the trade and finance ministries, but the latter has called on the government to let the trade ministry take over to resolve the issue.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told VnExpress Wednesday that he has asked government bodies with studying the possibility of letting the Ministry of Industry and Trade be sole regulator of the fuel market.

"Of course there are reviews that are needed to be completed, but we are aiming to task one ministry with the management of the fuel market."

Commenting on the recent market disruptions, Chinh said he has asked Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai to find and provide solutions.

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