By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) is working on a tie-up arrangement with Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) Grab and traffic management information technology application Waze to inform consumers on oil pricing as well as on services and amenities that gasoline stations offer.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi noted that on the mulled partnership with Grab, the department is sorting out a prospective service that could inform consumers which gasoline stations offer the cheapest prices and how far are these from the areas of specified motorists or vehicle owners.
He noted that via this propounded tie-up, Filipino end-users would be able to expand their choices.
At the same time, the energy chief indicated that they will be collaborating with Grab on the provision of information relating to services and amenities that each gasoline station would be able to offer.
“Our vision is to have suite of information that even the toilets at each gasoline station will eventually be rated by end-users, and this info would be accessible through the app system of Grab,” Cusi stressed.
For Waze, he noted that proximity to the gasoline refilling stations may be made available to motorists – and if possible, there should also be integrated information on services that these oil retail networks would be providing.
“We would like to start this collaboration in Metro Manila first, then we will eventually expand depending on the uptake of the end-users,” Cusi said.
He emphasized that he assigned this particular task to Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido J. Pulido III; and he expects outcome possibly before the end of this year.
The energy chief lamented that the oil companies had not been as aggressive in their information drive to the consumers – that even their weekly pricing adjustments had been a routine they cannot even fully substantiate – mainly on providing data on international price movements which is generally the basis they have been citing on their cost swings.
Given the lethargic approach of the oil companies then on the information dissemination front, Cusi noted that the government will need to take the cudgels for consumers so they could be fully apprised of the choices.
Cusi has been prodding the oil companies on the unbundling of their cost items, but he stressed this is turning out to be a very tough battle because the Oil Deregulation Law does not empower the government on intervention even relating to pricing matters and even in making the industry accountable on calls for transparency.
The DOE has been pushing for the issuance of a Circular that will segregate all the cost items making up pump prices, but this is stalling at public consultations until now.