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Gov’t calls for lower fuel prices

A motorcyclist purchases fuel at a petrol station in Phnom Penh late last year.
A motorcyclist purchases fuel at a petrol station in Phnom Penh late last year. Hong Menea

Gov’t calls for lower fuel prices

The government yesterday asked fuel retailers to lower petroleum prices, so as to reflect the drop in global prices in the last few months.

At a meeting chaired by Chhoun Dara, a secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, oil companies were given a week to report the mechanism they would use for a price drop, but were informed that if prices could not be cut another meeting would be called with senior officials.

“They are expected to give the answer back on the 8th of September. We will wait for their response,” said Ken Ratha, spokesman at the Commerce Ministry.

“If they will not respond to what we have requested, there might be another call for a meeting by the deputy prime minister soon,” he added.

However, he said that companies were given time to consult with their management team before reporting to the ministry.

“I don’t know when the meeting will be held, but if there will be a positive response from the companies; it seems we will have solved a lot of problems.”

Bin Many Mialia, marketing division manager at oil company PTT (Cambodia) said companies did not have a mechanism that was flexible enough to respond to daily price changes in the global market.

“We have lowered the price many times already. If the global price is lower in a few days, it is possible. But, if it goes up, we cannot do it,” Mialia said.

“We want to sell it cheaper too, but if we sell it cheaper and cannot make profit that is not good. It’s not that we want to get too much profit.”

Meng Saktheara, spokesperson for the Ministry of Mine and Energy, said on Wednesday that he welcomed the initiative to get petrol companies to match their prices to those on the global market.

“It is good and should be done. It is time to do it. They [global oil prices] have dropped but we still haven’t cut our prices,” he said.

Last November, the government called on fuel retailers to fall in line with declining world oil prices, after oil dipped below $90 a barrel.

The Ministry of Commerce began meeting regularly with Cambodian petrol retailers in January to monitor pump prices as oil fell below $50 a barrel.

Since June, when Brent crude oil was trading above $60, oil prices have continued to fall.

At the time of print yesterday, Brent crude had fallen 0.67 per cent to $50.22 from Wednesday’s closing price; after dipping to $42.70 last week – its lowest point since 2009.

According to a report on Monday from state-run news agency AKP, Cambodia, which imports all its oil, shipped in 920,488 tonnes of oil from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, in the first six months of the year, the same amount as in the first six months of 2014.

The value of oil imports, however, had declined by 38 per cent, from $883 million in the first six months of 2014 to $546 million this year, AKP said.

On Monday, the news agency reported that petrol prices at the pump was between 3,800 riel ($0.95) and 4,100 riel per litre.

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