Vietnam raises petroleum prices, removes taxes

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The Ministry of Finance raised petroleum prices, including gasoline, diesel and kerosene, effective from 10 a.m. on Thursday, Vuong Thai Dung, deputy chief executive officer of Vietnam National Petroleum Corp., said.

The price of 92-RON gasoline increased 18 percent to VND19,300 a liter, while diesel increased 24 percent to VND18,300 a liter, he said. Kerosene prices also increased 21 percent to 18,200 a liter, he said.

The Ministry of Finance has also decided to drop the 2 percent import tax on mazut (heavy fuel oil) and kerosene from Thursday, according to a statement posted Wednesday on the government website.

A woman asks for three liters of gasoline as many people wait for fill-ups at a gas station in downtown Ho Chi Minh City just minutes before Thursday's price hike

The move will help ease the upward pressure on fuel prices and keep the market stable, the statement said.

The government had previously removed import duties on other petroleum products. The import tax for gasoline was cut to zero percent from 6 percent, and the tax on diesel was lowered to zero percent from 2 percent on January 14.

Wednesday's statement said the zero tax on gasoline will remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, news website VnExpress reported Wednesday that local fuel firms were facing a loss of VND3,000 on every liter of gasoline sold due to the high prices of imported products.

Vietnam's petroleum supply is sufficient to meet domestic demand, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu said in an interview in Hanoi, also on Wednesday. Total petroleum supply has increased 33 percent this year, compared to the same period in 2010, he said.

"The petroleum supply has been distributed unevenly," leading to "unstable operations at some local distributors," Tu said. There are 12 major distributors in Vietnam, he said.

The government "is determined" to stabilize the petroleum market by implementing measures including allowing companies to import more fuel and increasing production at Dung Quat Oil Refinery, the country's only refinery, Tu said, without elaborating.

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