Vietnam's finance ministry says no fuel price cut depsite cheaper crude

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The Ministry of Finance on Thursday decided to keep prices of petroleum products unchanged despite public anticipation of a reduction following a sharp fall in crude oil prices.

Officials said fuel traders continued to make losses as the average price of imported gasoline over the past 30 days was still high.

Vuong Thai Dung, deputy general director of Petrolimex, Vietnam's largest fuel trader, said his company still incurred a loss of VND500-600 per liter of petroleum sold.

According to Military Petroleum Company, the price of the popular A92 gasoline, including all taxes and fees, is VND21,959 per liter, higher than the current retail price of the product.

Consumers have paid VND21,300 per liter for A92 since March 29.

Many experts believe it's not fair on consumers because they have seen world oil prices fall sharply since early this month. Crude oil fell to US$82 per barrel on Tuesday, compared to around $103 per barrel in March.

Economist Nguyen Minh Phong from the Hanoi Socioeconomic Research Institute said domestic prices should be adjusted in line with the recent decline.

"It's necessary to think about consumers instead of focusing only on the interest of businesses and the government," Phong said.

"Prices have to be adjusted up and down accordingly to maintain public confidence in the government's policies," he said, noting that even a small price cut at this point can serve as a much needed morale booster for the economy.

Economist Ngo Tri Long, former deputy head of the Market and Price Research Institute, said fuel traders should not calculate input costs based on the average price over a 30-day period because it may lead to higher figures. Instead they need to publicize the exact price they had to pay, he said.

News website VnExpress on Friday quoted Nguyen Tien Thoa, head of the price control department under the Ministry of Finance, as saying petroleum prices will be kept "stable".

Thoa said the ministry will soon announce all input costs of fuel products to help consumers understand the situation better. 

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