Gov’t Battle on Fuel Smuggling Doubles Price in Pailin

Gasoline prices more than doubled to nearly $2 per liter in Pailin this week, in the wake of a campaign by municipal authorities to combat fuel smuggling from Thailand, officials said.

Gas prices leapt from an average of around $0.80 per liter before the weekend to $1.75 on Tuesday, before easing off to $1.25 in the following days, said Kong Doung, director of the municipality’s information department.

Ieng Vuth, Pailin deputy governor and son of former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, attributed the price hike to efforts by municipal officials to combat illegal smuggling.

He also accused small-time gas traders of exaggerating a fuel shortage to radically inflate prices.

“Some sellers lied that there is no gasoline so they could increase the price,” he said. The vendors, he said, will be “educated” to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“I have informed the commerce department to educate them not to do that,” he said, adding that officials will continue to clamp down on illegal gas smugglers.

“This is the government’s order. We are not an autonomous zone,” he said.

Ven Ra, head of the SRP in the municipality and niece of the late Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok, said she paid nearly $1.40 for a liter of fuel Thursday morning.

“This is the first time ever in our history,” she said of the price hike, adding that the people of Pailin want gas prices to be fixed at $0.80 per liter.

Kim Povdara, a teacher in the municipality, said that by Thursday morning, he was able to find gas being sold for $1 per liter, but that this was still too high.

“The price is very expensive for us as civil servants,” he said. “Our salary is just enough for food.”

 

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