Fuel traders slammed for "insensitive' price hike

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade said local fuel traders had chosen the wrong moment to raise pump prices during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday last month, raising doubts about their motive.

The price hike on February 21, the final day of the Tet holiday, was not timely and caught local consumers off guard, the ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry however rejected speculation that the increase gave fuel companies huge profits.

Since December 15 last year, fuel product distributors have been allowed to raise pump prices automatically without seeking government consent if world prices rise by seven percent or more.

Traders last month increased gasoline prices by VND590 per liter, saying they suffered losses due to higher import prices. It was the second hike in as many months.

An official Military Petroleum Company was quoted by local news website VnExpress as saying that all the price hikes this year were legitimate. Petrolimex, the country's largest oil product importer, said Wednesday that after the hike local traders only received small profits of VND100 per liter.

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