By Myrna M. Velasco
Sanctions are being pushed to be inflicted against the culpabilities of either the oil companies or energy officials who would be remiss in their inventory tasks – that in turn, can adversely affect consumers.
This is propounded by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian, with him emphasizing that he is “studying measures to institutionalize effective mechanisms to monitor the levels of supply of petroleum products.”
Such, he noted, shall include “the imposition of stricter penalties for late and incorrect inventory submissions of oil companies, as well as for the negligence on the part of government agencies to monitor price movements.”
The senator stressed “I can foresee that we need to penalize oil companies if they don’t submit their inventories on time or if they give incomplete or inaccurate information about their stock levels.”
The submission of stocks or inventories had been enforced following the imposition of new excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law that had been effective since January 1 this year.
The oil companies indicated though that they made submissions of data based on the template provided to them by the Department of Energy (DOE); and while they submitted on prescribed deadline, it was the lack of coordination at the DOE that had taken things turn amiss.
It was gathered that the oil firms were instructed to submit via a DOE-provided email address, but they were still served with ‘show cause orders’ eventually – only because one official of the DoE left the required documents at home.
Nevertheless, Gatchalian reckoned that “these (oil) companies are still duty-bound to submit their monthly inventories,” while expounding that “the DoE should be on top in ensuring their compliance.”
The lawmaker cited Section 14 of Republic Act 8479 or the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act, which enjoins the energy department “to maintain a periodic schedule of present and future total inventory of petroleum products in the country.”
Conversely, the oil companies are required to lodge monthly report that details their sales and consumption levels; actual and projected importations; and inventory of oil products.
Relative to the TRAIN Act’s implementation, Gatchalian has also been prodding DOE “to speed up validation and analysis of the information it received and start investigating whether companies and stations took advantage of the situation through undue profiteering.”
The energy department had given word on the completion of its inventory and analysis of data by month-end, the time when 90-percent of the oil firms would already be selling TRAIN tax-saddled petroleum products at the pumps.