Bayan Muna calls for transparency in fuel prices
MANILA, Philippines — Lack of transparency in fuel price data will further make the public prone to abuse by oil companies as oil prices are expected to go up following the attack on Saudi Arabia’s crude processing plants that wiped out half its oil output, a party-list group said on Tuesday.
Without the unbundled data on oil prices in the country, Filipino consumers may fall victim to exorbitant oil price hikes, said Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares.
“Just like in electricity and water, the public has a right to know how fuel prices are determined so that they can be vigilant against overpricing and market abuses,” he said.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for attacks that shut two plants at the Abqaiq center, the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which will cut the kingdom’s production by about 5.7 million barrels per day.
The reduction represents 5 percent of global supply and has resulted in oil price increases estimated at P1.40 to P1.60 per liter for gasoline; P0.70 to P0.80 per liter for diesel; and P0.90 to P1.00 per liter for kerosene, Colmenares said.
Oil prices dipped on Tuesday but held most of the previous day’s record gains.
The attack sent both main oil prices surging almost 15 percent on Monday and they managed to hold most of those in early Asian trade.
The crisis revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Gulf region and raised questions about the security of oil fields in the world’s top exporter as well as other producers.
Colmenares expressed concern that fuel companies would use the Saudi bombing as justification to overprice their products since oil prices had remained unbundled.
“While everyone knows the cost of fuel in the international market, no one, even [the] government knows the cost after fuel is landed in our ports,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called on the House leadership to immediately set hearings on House Resolution No. 9 to investigate oil pricing schemes.
In an interview with reporters, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the country’s economic managers were weighing whether US pronouncements that it was ready to release some of its oil reserves would help stabilize or drive up fuel prices.
“All of this will affect not only the macroeconomic assumptions of our budget, but will also affect our economy,” he said.
In a statement, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urged the government to ensure the drone attack on Saudi’s Aramco oil processing plant on Saturday would not be used by oil companies to impose “arbitrary increases” in the price of fuel.
The Federation of Free Workers said the Department of Trade and Industry should closely monitor prices of basic goods in the coming days as these were easily affected by any increase in fuel prices.
—With reports from Jovic Yee and AFP
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