Gas price cuts too meager, residents say

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Residents have criticized the recent gasoline retail price reduction as too small after two major increases this year and recent import price drops.

The price of A92 gasoline was reduced by VND500 to VND23,300 per liter (US$4.23 per gallon) at 10 p.m. Wednesday (May 9), while the price of Diesel was cut by VND300 to VND21.600.

The decision was made at a meeting between members of the central government, the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade earlier that day.

At the meeting it was also decided that import duties of 3 percent on gasoline products would be reinstated. The duties were withdrawn March 8.

Gasoline prices were increased twice this year, in March and April, by a total of VND3,000 per liter.

Since the latest increase on April 20, global petroleum prices have significantly dropped, prompting the latest drop in Vietnam.

Finance Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said his ministry wanted to reduce gasoline prices to support production and citizens in their daily lives.

Hanoi-based economist Nguyen Minh Phong said the reduction was due to pressure from the public after the VND900 increase on April 20 despite the fact that petroleum companies were only losing VND500 per liter at that time.

As some motorists waited at gas stations just minutes before the 10pm change Wednesday, many found the cut too small to care about.

 "Just refill it. I don't want to wait for the reduction. It's just VND500," said a motorist refilling on Nguyen Bieu Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

Five minutes before the reduction, a driver urged an employee at a station on Hanoi's Tran Hung Dao Street to pump the fuel rather than worry about posting the new lower prices.

"It's an insignificant reduction," said the driver.

"I think the reduction was just to make people not being shocked by future increases," said Quang Thang, a motorist on Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung Street.

Vietnam has only one oil refinery and has to import a majority of its gasoline despite rich fossil fuel reserves off its east coast.

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