Vietnam's legislators demand more transparency in gas, power prices

By Bao Van, TN News

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A man pays for a refill at a gas station in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang A man pays for a refill at a gas station in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thang
The calculation of gasoline and electricity prices should be publicized so that local consumers can easily monitor them, chairman of the National Assembly said Friday.  
Nguyen Sinh Hung made the remark at a Q&A session with some key members of the cabinet, during which many legislators raised their concern about a lack of transparency in how pump prices are determined.
They also pointed out that many fuel traders continued to gain huge profits by capitalizing on their market position. 
Delegate Nguyen Van Hien said local consumers have to pay many fees when buying fuel. 
The retail prices of gasoline, for instance, carry various charges such as import tax, environmental tax and value added tax.
Some other representatives questioned why local fuel prices and global oil prices sometimes moved in opposite directions. 
Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang responded that domestic prices are adjusted based on price fluctuations in Singapore, which supplies most of Vietnam's fuel imports. 
Related agencies have really tried to harmonize the benefits of local consumers, traders and the state when considering gasoline prices, the minister said.
Export concerns
Some legislators on Friday also expressed their worries that exports of many items have fallen, hurting local farmers. 
Minister Hoang said that exports of some products such as rice, seafood and crude oil went down in the first five months, compared to the same period last year.
However, the decline is only temporary, he said. 
New free trade agreements will create more opportunities for Vietnam to boot its shipments again, with many products no longer facing any tariffs, he said. 
The trade pact between Vietnam and the European Union, which is expected to be signed by the end of the year, will eliminate taxes on 90 Vietnamese products.
Meanwhile, seafood, textile, and footwear are among Vietnam’s top exports and likely to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, with tariffs in member countries, including the US, to be cut to near zero.

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