Customs: VN Gas Hike To Stem Smuggling

Customs officials in Cambodia are welcoming Vietnam’s move to raise gas prices, saying they hope it will reduce the amount of gas be­ing smuggled in from across the border.

“If the price of gasoline in Viet­nam is the same as in Cambodia, then I think smuggling will de­cline,” said Yim Pheang, head of the custom’s office at Chrey Thom, a regional border checkpoint in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district.

Higher global oil prices promp­ted Vietnam to raise gasoline prices over the weekend, the second time this year that Vietnam has made such a move.

Starting Sunday, gasoline prices were hiked 10 percent to 8,800 dong ($0.56) per liter and diesel prices were raised 18 percent to 6,500 dong ($0.41).

Gas prices in Cambodia are typ­ically 30 percent to 40 percent higher than in Vietnam and Thai­land, a sit­uation that encourages ram­pant smuggling along the borders with both countries.

Yim Pheang said border officials at Chrey Thom have been work­ing to combat smuggling, seizing be­­tween 300 and 400 gasoline con­tain­ers per month in re­cent months.

Last week, the price of gasoline at the Vietnam border was 2,300 riel ($0.58) per liter, with smuggled gasoline selling in Cambodia at 2,800 riel ($0.70) per liter.

In Phnom Penh, Total and Cal­tex gas stations were selling liters of gas at the rate of 3,400 riel ($0.85).

Sok Kong, president of Soki­mex, said last week that if the gov­ern­ment does not reduce gas tax­es, then smuggling will continue to be a problem. Taxes are now set at $344 per ton of gasoline and $140 per ton of diesel.

Kun Nhem, deputy director of the Ministry of Finance’s Cus­toms and Excise Department, said there are no plans to raise the gas tax.

Petroleum expert Bin May Mia­lia warned that gasoline prices will continue to rise in Cambodia be­cause international oil prices will pro­­­­bably not decline but will most like­­­ly continue rising. He recommended that the government look for ways to advise drivers on how to save gas.

(Additional reporting by The Associated Press)


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