Up to 121 out of 550 filling stations in Ho Chi Minh City were temporarily short on gasoline supply as of Monday afternoon, the municipal Market Surveillance Agency reported the same day.
Gas stations have already placed orders, but suppliers said they are also facing a dearth of gasoline.
Ho Chi Minh City currently has 15 fuel importers, 60 distributors, and 550 gas stations.
According to the Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Agency, some filling stations do not have enough gasoline for sale due to the supply shortage.
A representative of the agency said that “other petrol stations are still operating as normal to serve the demand of local residents.
"There is neither gasoline hoarding nor sale of gasoline at different prices compared with the listed rates.”
Gas stations which are facing a temporary shortage of gasoline are mainly in Binh Chanh District, Binh Tan District, and Thu Duc City, with eight, 15, and 21 stations, respectively.
They have put up signs saying ‘running out of gasoline, only oil remains’ or ‘waiting for refilling.'
Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Agency, said the agency had asked market surveillance teams to keep a close watch on the operation of local filling stations.
If they detect any gas station suspending its operation without legitimate reasons or hoarding products, they must immediately work with such stations and deal with them in line with the law.
Amid the temporary shutdown of many gas stations, sparkling public concerns, the Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Agency inspected some stations in the city on Monday.
|An official of the Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Agency measures a gasoline tank at a filling station to check if the station is hoarding fuel. Photo: The Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Agency|
Strict sanctions against violations of fuel trade regulations
Head of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance Tran Huu Linh, at an online meeting of the directorate on Monday, required imposing harsh sanctions on those violating regulations on fuel trade.
The directorate asked the market surveillance agencies of cities and provinces to continue strictly complying with directives on inspecting and handling violations in fuel trade issued by the government, the steering committee for anti-smuggling, counterfeit goods, and trade fraud, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the directorate.
They were also assigned to cooperate closely with the local Departments of Industry and Trade and other relevant agencies to tighten the inspection into and supervision of fuel traders, and ask them to ensure sufficient fuel supply.
Additionally, it is a must to keep a close watch on filling stations within their precincts.
As for stations which have temporarily closed, they should coordinate with the Departments of Industry and Trade to uncover the reasons for the shutdown and promptly handle those violating regulations. Licenses may be revoked if needed.
Heads of market surveillance agencies will take the main responsibility for the inspection, supervision, and handling of violations in fuel trade, and punish officials showing poor leadership and supervision or lending a helping hand to violators.
Many stations in other provinces face a gasoline shortfall as well.
On Monday, many filling stations in south-central Ninh Thuan Province put up ‘out of gasoline’ signs or capped the volume of gasoline sold to each motorcycle rider.
They allowed each consumer to have their motorcycle refilled with VND30,000-50,000 (US$1.25-2) worth of gasoline.
A representative of a gas station in Tan Tai Ward, Phan Rang-Thap Cham City said they are waiting for the supply by distributors.
The provincial Department of Industry and Trade informed that it had received 13 petitions from fuel traders for a temporary suspension of their operation.
Eleven of them reasoned that they received small or even no commissions or suppliers failed to provide gasoline for them.
A fuel distributor has its six gas stations and 20 retail agents closed temporarily due to insufficient supply.
|A gas station on Thong Nhat Street in Phan Rang-Thap Cham City, Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam caps the volume of gasoline sold to each motorcycle rider. Photo: Duy Ngoc / Tuoi Tre|
Tran Quoc Sanh, deputy director of the Ninh Thuan Department of Industry and Trade, said the department coordinated with the provincial Market Surveillance Agency to hold a meeting with fuel traders, distributors, and agents in the province to ensure the sufficient supply of fuels there.
Enterprises proposed increasing their commissions to at least VND1,000 ($0.04) per liter to ensure the operation of fuel retailers, and reducing lending rates and taxes for a minimum of a year so that they can compensate their losses over the past periods.
Shutdown of over 100 gas stations not worth worrying: ministry
The Ministry of Industry and Trade on Monday issued a statement saying that the temporary shutdown of more than 100 filling stations in Ho Chi Minh City, An Giang Province, Binh Phuoc Province, and Dak Lak Province is not worth worrying as the country has 17,000 gas stations.
The ministry has come up with solutions for ensuring a sufficient supply of fuel.
According to the ministry, many gas stations have shut temporarily due to surging operation costs and traders’ supply shortage.
In addition, many fuel distributors have cut discounts for retailers to restrict big orders, resulting in the later's losses.
Furthermore, the ministry attributed the situation to storms and floods, which disrupted the transport of fuels.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said it had suggested the Ministry of Finance reduce taxes on fuels.
The two ministries have regulated fuel prices in line with the global rates and the domestic supply and demand, ensuring the benefits of relevant parties, encouraging enterprises to maintain their supply, and preventing fuel hoarding or smuggling.
The ministry is also cooperating with localities to ask fuel enterprises to ensure a sufficient supply.
Despite the shortage of gasoline at some stations, the local fuel demand is still met, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
It cited reports by some enterprises as saying that the Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) had 489,000 cubic meters of fuels in stock as of Saturday last week; PetroVietnam Oil Corporation, 230,000 cubic meters; Military Petroleum Corporation, 19,000 cubic meters; Saigon Petro Co. Ltd., 11,000 cubic meters; Dong Thap Petroleum Trading Import Export JSC, 45,000 cubic meters; and Thanh Le Import-Export Trading Company, 60,000 cubic meters.
The statement of the Ministry of Industry and Trade has caused controversies among residents.
Many consumers have suggested officials from the ministry patrol and inspect petrol stations to see residents’ difficulties in buying gasoline.
They had to queue up in long lines to have their motorcycle tanks replenished.
Some even visited several gas stations to be able to buy gasoline.