Vietnam fuel retailers sole beneficiaries of price drop: importers

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Gas stations are apparently the only ones profiting from falling global oil prices, major importers say.

They say that retailers are demanding and getting higher commissions so their earnings have gone up.

Dang Vinh Sang, general director of Saigon Petro, said some distributors have increased commissions to retailers as there is fierce competition in the southern fuel market.

These distributors typically halt imports when global oil prices surge, leaving a few major importers with the job of supplying for the whole market, Sang said. Now that oil prices have fallen, they are trying to undercut other importers with lower prices, he said.

The problem is that the price cuts are not passed on to consumers. Instead, they translate to high commissions for gas stations, Sang said.

"Saigon Petro had to raised its retail commissions to VND700-800 per liter of gasoline, otherwise our retailers would switch to other distributors," he said.

Petrolimex, Vietnam's top oil importer and distributor, also complained about the high commissions for retailers.

"Higher retail commissions don't bring anything good for consumers and the state; only gas stations benefit," Dung said. "It's necessary to review market management."

Vietnam brought back import taxes on fuel products early this month after oil prices fell in the world market. Diesel and kerosene are now both subject to a 5 percent import tax.

Fuel traders are required to set aside VND400 of every liter of gasoline they sell for the price stabilization fund, up from the previous VND300 per liter.

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