Gov’t Asks Fuel Firms to Submit Financial Data

Government officials from the ministries of commerce, finance and energy met Thursday with petroleum companies at the Commerce Ministry to ask that they submit financial data for review as the first step to establishing a plan that would ensure local fuel prices remain in line with global trends.

The joint committee was formed last month to address the government’s frequent need to intervene to set fuel prices. Despite a recent global drop in fuel prices, local companies have said they cannot afford to lower prices at the pump.

“We reached a consensus with the private sector as well as the ministries to find a common model that can be applied in our country,” said Ken Ratha, spokesman for the Commerce Ministry.

Mr. Ratha said that rule to reduce government involvement would be based on financial data that the companies were due to submit today.

“Initially, the private sector will have to provide information related to their cost structures, methods of calculation, expenses, the individual models that they are currently applying,” he said.

“This information will let us know how much the companies can sell petrol for, and comparing this with their costs we can see if their selling price is too high, and we will appeal for a reduction,” he said.

The three ministries will meet again on October 5 to review the data from the petroleum companies, and on October 6 they will meet petroleum companies to finalize the new rule.

Mr. Ratha said that all seven of Cambodia’s major petroleum companies were present at the meeting Thursday.

“This is just a stage in which the ministry collects input from all companies and is a discussion that has not resulted in any decision yet…. The ministry wants to make a transparent cost structure,” said Chan Ong, the assistant to the general director of Sokimex.

Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested that the ministries of finance and commerce closely monitor fuel prices in Cambodia. Speaking at a conference on ecotourism, he said that fuel prices increase in line with global markets but take much longer to fall.

“The prices of fuel on the world market has gone down, but you have been too slow to reduce them here,” he said.

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