By Genalyn Kabiling
The public can expect another rollback in the prices of oil products next week amid the downtrend in global oil costs, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced Wednesday.
“We are projecting that prices of oil, there will be rollback again next week because of the improvement in the price of oil in the international market so that’s the good news,” Cusi said during a press conference in Malacañang.
Cusi expressed hope that the decline in oil prices would help ease the country’s inflation rate, which reached 6.7 percent last month. He noted that oil prices have “stabilized” in the past two months.
“Of course, makakatulong ito na mababa iyong inflation kapag bumababa iyong presyo ng langis. Ang sabi ko nga po kanina na iyong—there were four series of rollback, magkakaroon na naman tayo ng rollback next week [Of course, it will help lower inflation when oil prices decrease. As I said, there were four series of rollback and there will another rollback next week],” he said.
“Maasahan natin na iyong [We can expect the] factor contributed by oil in inflation will be lessened. Actually, from September to October it has already normalized, what I mean is stabilized],” he said.
Local oil companies recently reduced prices of their products for the fourth consecutive week amid the softening of world oil prices. In the past four weeks, the price of gasoline reportedly went down by P5.20 per liter and diesel by P2.65 per liter.
Cusi explained that the fall in local oil prices was caused by several factors including higher production from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“In October, OPEC production rose to its highest level in almost 2 years as higher output from Saudi Arabia, Libya and the UAE pushed production up to 390,000 barrels per day,” he said.
“Additionally, oil prices fell this week as the start to US sanction against Iran’s fuel export was softened by waivers that will allow eight major importers to continue buying Iranian crude,” he added.
Despite the downward trend in oil prices, Cusi said the government was taking measures to mitigate short to medium term volatility.
He said fuel vouchers have been provided to qualified franchise holders of public utility jeepneys. “For the remainder of 2018 and the entire year of 2019, the government has allocated P4.8 billion towards this program,” he said.
He said the energy department was also working with oil firms to provide relief to consumers in the form of corporate social responsibility programs.
“A total of 1,317 stations across the country are now providing a fuel price discounts for public utility vehicle drivers amounting to P3.00 per liter,” he said.