Gas stations withhold sales, wait for price hike

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Many gas stations around the country are selling fuel in small volumes, anticipating a price hike.

Over the past week, many stations in the southern province of An Giang have refused to sell more than VND20,000 worth of gasoline, or just a little more than one liter, to each customer. They also close at 5 p.m., instead of operating through midnight as usual.

Similarly, many gas stations in the northern province of Thanh Hoa have also cut back on sales or even ceased operations altogether.

Local residents told Thanh Nien they were really upset when they came to gas stations to find that they'd stopped selling fuel, making excuses like power cuts, technical problems or simply running out of stock. Production activities have also been hindered by the lack of fuel, enteprises complained.

Anticipation of a fuel price hike has been running high based on speculation that the country's petrol price stabilization fund has run out of money. Fuel companies claim they are incurring a loss of VND2,000, or around 10 US cents, for each liter of gasoline they sell.

Nguyen Tien Thoa, head of the Finance Ministry's Price Management Department, confirmed in a VnExpress report on Tuesday that the stabilization fund has actually run out.

Hence the government was considering a plan to raise retail prices as distributors have been suffering losses, he said.

Just a few days ago Thoa had affirmed that petrol distributors would continue to use the price stabilization fund and refrain from hiking prices.

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