Vietnam reduces fuel prices ahead of NA meeting

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The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade on Tuesday ordered traders to reduce retail prices of fuel products, citing a fall in global prices since last Thursday.

The move came a few weeks before the next National Assembly meeting scheduled to start late next month.

Petrolimex, Vietnam's top oil importer and distributor, said the same day that it has reduced its retail price for 92-octane petrol, the most popular grade, by 2 percent to VND24,050 (US$1.15) per liter from 6 p.m. Both diesel and kerosene prices were also cut down by 2 percent to VND21,450 and VND21,600 per liter respectively.

This is the second fuel price adjustment this year after a sudden hike on March 28, which was criticized by local businesses and experts as unreasonable at a time global prices were going down. The prices of gasoline and oil last month jumped by 1.7-6.7 percent or VND350-1,400 per liter from last December.

The two ministries had explained on March 29 that the increase was because the price stabilization fund had run out and smuggling was rampant, given the widening gap between prices in the country and its neighbors such as China, Cambodia and Laos. They also said that global prices remained high despite the drop.

Do Van Duong, an NA deputy from Ho Chi Minh City, had last November questioned the Minister of Finance and his counterpart from Ministry of Industry and Trade about the rationale for changing fuel prices before or during recent National Assembly meetings, according to a Tuoi Tre report.

The two ministers had explained that the price adjustment followed the global trend and nation's regulations, and the world price changes just happened to coincide with the time of National Assembly meetings.

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