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Fuel retailers asked to account for price mismatch

Fuel retailers asked to account for price mismatch

The Ministry of Commerce has called for a meeting with fuel retailers to review prices at the pump after Prime Minister Hun Sen urged them to set prices that reflect falling global oil prices, a government official said.

Ken Ratha, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry would convene a meeting next Monday with the representatives of petroleum companies operating in the Kingdom to discuss pricing.

“The aim of the meeting is to push for a decrease in oil prices,” he said. “The prime minister’s call adds pressure to discuss this with [petrol] companies, as we must urge them to drop gasoline prices.”

Fuel prices at most petrol stations in Phnom Penh yesterday ranged from 3,850 riels per liter for regular to 4,150 per litre for premium.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said global oil prices had declined in the last few months, and accused fuel retailers of not passing along the savings to consumers.

“Oil prices in global markets have tumbled, but the price [in Cambodia ] is decreasing very slowly,” he said. “Yet when oil prices [in international markets] go up, the price in Phnom Penh goes up quickly.”

He urged the concerned ministries to work closely with fuel retailers on the issue.

At a meeting held earlier this month between the Ministry of Commerce and oil companies, local petroleum retailers agreed to a new flexible pricing mechanism that would monitor the cost of imported oil and if there was a drop, the retailers would be expected to lower prices at the pump or face unspecified punative action.

Bin Many Mialia, manager of PTT Cambodia, declined to comment on the prime minister’s speech.

However, she stressed that the company’s retail fuel prices reflect global market trends, as international oil prices have “remained on the higher side” during the past month.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, chief whip of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said fuel prices should be lowered to between 2,500 and 2,800 riels per liter in order to reflect global oil prices.

“We wonder why when the international oil prices are falling, prices in the Kingdom remain high,” he said. “And why do they only drop when the prime minister demands it?”

As of Wednesday, the price of Brent crude had risen from $42.69 per a barrel a month ago to $49.33, but was still lower than the high for the year, which was $67.77 in May.

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