Over 700 million liters of fuel is smuggled into Laos every year according to Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh.
Vientiane Times reports that the Prime Minister told the ongoing National Assembly session that while the country officially imports approximately 1,200 million liters of fuel each year, reports provided by neighboring countries suggest as much as 1,900 million liters have been delivered to Laos.
Some 700 million liters of fuel have been smuggled into the country in an attempt to avoid paying levies and taxes, according to the PM.
“It is quite clear that corrupt officials have been colluding with fuel importers to enrich themselves without thinking about the effect their actions would have upon our nation,” said PM Phankham.
“Such things happen because of weak management on the part of the government,” he continued, saying that the government would keep a closer eye on importers and that state enterprises involved in the importation of fuels would be reformed.
The government has provided a Letter of Credit worth USD 200 million for the purchase of fuel that should meet the needs of the nation for the next two to three months, Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone told the National Assembly on Thursday.
This amount will be enough to purchase 200 million liters of fuel, helping the country avoid fuel shortages during July and August.
Despite limited foreign currency reserves and a weakened local currency, the government is providing credit to fuel importers who have been struggling to source sufficient foreign currency to purchase fuels.
Foreign currency is to be sourced from companies that export minerals and agricultural produce, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, with the government allocating USD 60 million for use by fuel importers in June, while the Ministry of Finance has provided another USD 10 million.
Laos sources fuel mainly from Thailand and Vietnam.