Rising cooking gas prices bring more financial pain

Tran Thi Van, an eatery owner in Hanoi, is struggling to even pay rent after cooking gas prices skyrocketed. Managing three big woks in the kitchen at her stall in Cau Giay District last Friday, the 33-year-old says: "Each meal now only generates a few thousand dongs (VND1,000 = $0.04) in profit. But I cannot raise food prices since my customers are construction workers and college students".
She requires three 12-kg gas cylinders a week on average. Before the Lunar New Year in early last month, a cylinder used to cost VND467,000 and Van paid a little less since she bought them in bulk. The Hung Yen Province native was hopeful her eatery would be busier after the holidays as students returned to school and workers gradually returned to the capital. But she was shocked to learn that price of a cylinder had increased by VND16,000, meaning she has to pay around VND200,000 extra per month on gas. A honeycomb charcoal stove is in front of her stall as she planned to use it along with the gas stove to save money. But she had to stop using it after just two days because she could not stand the toxic smell of coal. She thought about switching to induction stoves, but they are not really suitable for cooking large quantities of food. She had told her husband that though they barely make any profit they should keep at it to earn money amid the Covid-19 economic fallout. The eatery operated for a while after the New Year holidays but had to close down for 10 days because the whole family contracted Covid. Van reopened it in early March, just as the price of gas rose once again this time to more than VND500,000. The profit now is not sufficient to cover the monthly rent of VND10 million for the eatery and house, let alone living expenses. Many cooking gas retailers tell VnExpress that customers are complaining about the unaffordable prices. Last year gas prices increased nine times. "Many families who call to inquire about gas prices say the price is too high now and they don't plan to buy gas cylinders any more," Loan, a seller in Nam Tu Liem District, says. "Many have switched to induction and electric cooktops".

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