Filling stations along borders will only be allowed to operate from 6am to 6 pm to combat fuel smuggling, an anti-fuel smuggling conference held by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in HCM City was told on Monday.
HCM CITY —
Addressing the conference, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Vu Huy Hoang, said vehicles traveling from Viet Nam to Cambodia would only be allowed to buy enough fuel to drive 50-100km.
The draft regulations on cross-border fuel trading would be issued later in March, Hoang said.
Farmers in border areas would only be able to buy large quantities of fuel for farm machinery such as tractors and harvesters as certified by commune authorities.
Hoang asked commune authorities to keep the fuel-purchase certification process simple.
More fuel smuggling
Cross-border fuel smuggling is occuring in most southern provinces bordering Cambodia, including Kien Giang, An Giang, Long An, Tay Ninh and Dong Thap, according to the national board for combating cross-border smuggling.
The fuel smuggling, which is conducted by road, waterways and sea, is on the rise as the difference in fuel prices in Viet Nam and neighbouring countries increases.
In the first two months of 2011, the market watch forces in the five southern border provinces stopped 57 fuel smuggling cases, seizing 26,500 litres of fuel, while customs officers captured over 7,600 litres.
Fuel smuggling was also reported in central and northern provinces. Major Tran Xuan Lan, head of Lao Bao Border Post in the Central province of Quang Tri, said border guards found nearly 2,000 litres of diesel oil carried in 74 plastic cans smuggled to Laos on March 11.
In March, the coast guard seized 573,000 tonnes of fuel, which was illegally transported at sea, said Major General Canh Hien from the High Command of Border Guards.
Minister Hoang told the market watch forces to fine the fuel smugglers and if serious enough to bring them to court.
Dam Thi Huyen, deputy general director of Viet Nam Petroleum Import-Export Co (Petrolimex), said fuel prices in Cambodia were VND2,000 to VND3,000 per liter higher than those in Viet Nam.
Huyen said smugglers hired border residents to carry fuel across the border line, adding that each of these fuel mules could carry from 100 to 200 litres from Viet Nam to Cambodia per day.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade figures, each filling station in the southern border areas sold about 200,000 litres of fuel in February, doubling January's figure.
The director of the Tay Ninh Department of Industry and Trade, Do Thanh Hoa, said smugglers used trucks and lorries with trailers to buy hundreds of litres of fuel at filling stations before selling it to Cambodia buyers.
Representatives of Long An, An Giang and Dong Thap agreed that most of the smugglers using plastic bags and cans to buy fuel were residents of border areas.
Hoa said the absence of regulations on fuel sales made smuggling hard to control.
Nguyen Ai Viet, deputy director of Kien Giang Department of Industry and Trade and head of Kien Giang Market Watch Agency, said the long border and difficult terrain had made anti-fuel smuggling campaigns unsuccessful.
The Deputy Chairman of Dong Thap People's Committee, Nguyen Ton Hoang, said by subsidising fuel prices, the State coffers benefited the smugglers.
To combat fuel smuggling, Hoang said the Government should raise fuel prices in line with world prices but it wasn't practical to do it now.
The Government had approved plans to raise prices of fuel, coal and electricity to world prices in 2012, Hoang said. — VNS