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Coincidence? Vietnam hikes petrol prices as higher tax goes into effect

2015-05-06 23:08:01

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Vietnam raised petrol prices by the largest amount in four years on Tuesday, leaving some doubt as to whether the increase has something to do with the higher environmental tax recently levied on fuel.
The retail prices of A92 and A95 gasoline went up to VND19,230 and VND19,830 a liter, respectively, or a hike of VND1,950 per liter in both cases, according to a decision by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. (US$1 = VND21,650)
The E5 biofuel was also subject to the same price hike, whereas diesel oil and fuel oil prices remained unchanged. The retail price of kerosene, meanwhile, went down by VND260 to VND15,810 a liter.
Fuel wholesalers were required to adjust their prices starting at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, the ministry said in a document released late the same day.
The ministry said the price adjustment was calculated in a way that would not greatly affect businesses and the public.
It said the A92 petrol price increase could have been as much as VND3,387 a liter as the import price rose to $80.89 a barrel at some points.
The retail prices of E5 gasoline should have soared higher, while diesel and fuel oil would have also been increased.
However, the ministry had decided to earmark money from the fuel price stabilization fund for reducing the amount by which petrol prices would be increased and keeping fuel and diesel oil prices unchanged, it said.
The petrol price rise coincided with the time when Vietnam began applying a higher environmental tax on fuel.
Since the beginning of this month, every liter of fuel sold in the Southeast Asian country has ‘shouldered’ a VND3,000 tax, threefold the old rate.
The new environmental tax rate will add some VND10.83 trillion ($504.71 million) to the state budget.
The Ministry of Finance said in March that the higher tax would not result in higher fuel prices.
Vo Van Quyen, head of the domestic market department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, reiterated the statement during a regular meeting late last month, saying the new environmental tax “would not affect the coming fuel price adjustment.”
Now that petrol prices have been increased, neither the finance nor industry ministry has commented on the apparent link between the higher tax and retail fuel prices.
While the ministry has said the new petrol prices will support both businesses and members of the public, many local consumers say they doubt it.
In Vietnam, higher fuel prices usually result in higher prices for most other services and commodities that are essential to the public. Even worse, the high prices tend to remain the same even when fuel prices drop.
The latest is the most significant petrol price hike since March 2011, when A92 petrol went up VND2,000 to sell at a record VND21,300 a liter.
Tuesday saw the second fuel price increase in 2015, after the VND1,600 per liter hike on March 11.
Petrol prices in Vietnam constantly fell from July last year from the record high VND25,640 a liter to the bottom of VND15,670 a liter in January.
The two increases since March have brought petrol prices back to the over-VND19,000 mark.
Source: Tuoi Tre News