By Myrna M. Velasco
Given the exponential rise in global oil prices, the costs of petroleum products at Philippine pumps will experience big-time hikes this week to the tune of P1.45 per liter for gasoline and diesel products.
Kerosene prices will also inch higher this week by P1.35 per liter as announced by the oil companies. As of this writing, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, PetroGazz, Seaoil and Chevron (of the Caltex brand) have already announced price hikes that will be effective 6 a.m. on Tuesday (February 26), while the rest of their industry rivals are anticipated to follow.
At the same time, pick-up prices of cooking fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are anticipated to jump by more than P1.00 per kilogram – and this is due to be announced by the oil companies also this week.
The incessantly climbing prices of oil products in the world market is among the developments closely monitored by the Department of Energy (DOE) because this will weigh down heavily on the spending power of every Filipino household.
And the bigger consideration for the country in general is the inflationary impact that this will have on the economy – similar to what happened last year, when wild upswing in the basic cost of commodities raised questions about the government’s ability in managing the economy.
For this year, it has not helped that the State pushed ahead with the imposition of the additional excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, the main cash-infusion scheme of the government to fund its pipelined infrastructure projects.
On the global market sphere, the DOE is citing two major events that have been exerting upward pressure on prices – the cutback in production of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its ally-producers led by Russia; and the enforcement of sanctions on Venezuela’s oil exports.
Dubai crude, which is the benchmark for Asian markets, is already cognitively breaching the US$65 per barrel; and the OPEC basket of crude had gone past US$66 per barrel.
In the domestic scene, the tax-wolf government cannot do as much to ease the impact of rising oil prices except to make its plea to the consumers to be efficient and exercise their power of choice in their fuel purchases.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi is advancing appeal to the public “to be conscious of their energy and fuel usage, especially during these times as world oil prices are steadily climbing to high levels.”
He said it will be incumbent upon the Filipino consumers’ discipline in using energy that they could generate their own cost savings, including fuel use in their vehicles.
“If we come together with the common goal of energy conservation through energy efficiency, we can achieve a lot in terms of in-pocket savings and energy sustainability in the long term,” the energy chief stressed.