Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien had a working session with French Minister of Social Affairs and Health Marisol Touraine during her visit to France from 16-18 May.
The 11 fuel dealers who have been caught selling substandard gasoline should have their licenses canceled and receive the highest possible fines, Le Manh Ha, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, has said.
The proposal was made at the conclusion of a meeting between the city’s government, the municipal relevant departments and agencies, and the Market Management Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, regarding the final penalty on the dishonest fuel dealers who mixed A83-grade gasoline with A92 and A95 to cheat their customers.
Speaking at the meeting, the municipal Department of Science and Technology said besides breaching the regulation on gasoline quality, three of the 11 dealers also failed to renew their licenses that had expired in December 2010.
The department thus suggested applying Decree No 54 to punish the violators with a monetary fine 5 times greater than the total value of the substandard petrol they sold.
However, the department added that in fact the dealers can only be subject to a maximum fine of VND30 million, as stipulated by the ordinance of financial sanctions.
“No matter how high the fine calculated by the Decree No 54 is, the dealers only have to pay VND30 million maximum,” a department official said, cautioning that such regulation can only encourage more violations.
The science department also suggested that the dealers be fined VND5 million for operating with expired licenses.
However, deputy chairman Ha said the proposed sanctions are not strict enough and called for more proposals from other agencies.
Huynh Khanh Hiep, deputy head of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade, said the act of selling substandard gasoline under the name of A92 and A95 gasoline can be considered a trade fraud.
Thus, he demanded that the dealers be penalized under the Decree No 107 on trade frauds and goods trafficking, which stipulates that the dealers pay fines, compensate their customers, and most importantly, be suspended for 12 months.
The decree also stipulates that if the dealers cannot find the victims to pay the compensation to, the money they earned from selling the substandard fuel will be confiscated to contribute to the state budget.
The suggestion met with approval by the Market Management Agency.
In closing the meeting, Ha said the city’s government is likely to levy the highest financial fine possible on the dishonest dealers, requesting them to pay compensations as well as revoking their licenses.
Possible criminal prosecution
Ha also said that the substandard gasoline, which was detected to have an unusual octane rating of 83.4, 83.7, or 85, can be considered fake A92 and A95 petrol, thus subjecting the dealers to possible criminal prosecution.
Though this idea is not completely shared by other agencies, Ha still demanded that the relevant agencies consider all legal regulations to conduct criminal prosecution on the dealers, which he said would be a stricter penalty.
He also ordered the municipal Department of Science and Technology to collect fuel samples in all fuel dealers citywide.
For its part, the department said it has detected many unqualified gasoline samples in some filling stations.
“This constitutes a violation of the law and the authorized agencies can confiscate the products and await final inspection results to impose sanctions,” Ha said.