Subscribe Search

Search form

Petrol firms told to open books

A Caltex fuel station in Phnom Penh
A petrol pump attendant hands a customer his change at a Caltex fuel station in Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

Petrol firms told to open books

Cambodia’s petrol retailers have been ordered by the government to hand over import information and financial records in what looks to be the first steps toward installing fuel-price legislation.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) announced publicly yesterday via state-owned media Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) that it has commenced preparing regulations to control prices at the pump and stop individual companies from deliberately overcharging.

“The Ministry of Mines and Energy began studying and preparing regulations relevant to oil price management in Cambodia as a mean to set changing prices of gasoline in accordance with that on the international markets,” the statement read.

All eight of the country’s petroleum importers and distributors will now be required to report the quantity of their imports, sales and stock levels every month to the MME, yesterday’s AKP statement added.

“The ministry starts to study different strategies toward the creation of the regulations … against any franchise businessmen who set price by themselves.”

Global crude oil prices have declined more than 50 per cent since July last year. Meanwhile, fuel prices among Cambodia’s top distributors have declined 20 per cent since November from 5,000 riel ($1.25) to just under 4,000 riel.

MME Minister Suy Sem ordered officials earlier this month to consider installing retail fuel price legislation into Cambodia’s new draft Petroleum Law, which is expected to go before the Council of Ministers later this year.

“We are trying to look at the best international practice – looking at all countries around the world that depend heavily on oil imports,” Meng Saktheara, secretary of state for the MME, said.

“It is a bit complicated because this kind of regulation needs to complement the Ministry of Commerce’s Anti-Competition Law and its Consumer Protection law, and it also need to be fair for businesses.”

Yesterday’s announcement comes after General Department of Camcontrol officials on Saturday conducted surprise inspections on Caltex, Total, Tela, PTT and Sokimex in Phnom Penh, examining the quantity and quality of the distributors’ fuel.

No discrepancies were identified, Camcontol reported.

Hiroshi Suzuki, CEO of the Business Research Institute of Cambodia, welcomed the government’s review yesterday he said was a safer approach to market interventions such as government subsidies.

“The Ministry’s approach to request the quantities seems appropriate,” he said in an email. “Many countries have faced difficulties in trying to control the price directly,” he added, citing the case of Indonesia, which recently scrapped fuel subsidies its government said were the cause of political tension and budget deficits.

“[Indonesia’s] subsidies to keep the oil price lower had many bitter experiences because the market’s power is much stronger than the government’s.”

Suzuki recommended a stockpile regime whereby the Cambodian government would increase its oil reserves in case of future shortages or a sudden and dramatic global price increase.

“This strategic reserve could be released at the time of crisis and/or very drastic fluctuation of oil price.”

Reached yesterday, Bin Many Mialia, deputy managing director for corporate affairs at Thai-owned PTT (Cambodia) Limited, said that he was currently overseas and had not heard of the governments announcement, but it was something he would address on return to Cambodia.

Other major petrol retailers could not be reached for comment yesterday.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Cambodia, states clash at UN session

    Cambodia traded shots with the international community in a heated exchange at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening, with states condemning the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on the political opposition and civil society, and an increasingly agitated Cambodia accusing member states