oil industry

Big-time rollback in fuel prices could happen on March 22, says Cusi

Aika Rey
Big-time rollback in fuel prices could happen on March 22, says Cusi

FUEL. A pump attendant fills a fuel tank at a gas station in Delpan, Manila, on March 14, 2022.

Rappler

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi notes that Dubai crude oil prices dipped in the past two days. If this trend continues, there may be a rollback.

MANILA, Philippines – Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said a big-time rollback in fuel prices may be implemented next Tuesday, March 22.

In a government briefing aired Wednesday, March 16, Cusi explained that pump prices could go down following a dip in Dubai crude oil prices.

According to Cusi, the average for the past two trading days reached $104.79 per barrel. This is lower than last week’s average of $122.61 per barrel, which had caused the massive hike in local pump prices on Tuesday, March 15.

“Kung magtutuloy po itong ganitong trend na umabot ng $104 or $105 per barrel, makaka-experience po tayo ng pagbaba ng presyo next week. Sa gasolina, puwede tayong bumaba ng mga P5 mahigit, at sa diesel, puwede tayong magbaba ng P12 pataas,” Cusi told President Rodrigo Duterte.

(If this trend ranging from $104 to $105 per barrel continues, we could experience a rollback in prices next week. For gasoline, it could be more than P5, and for diesel, it could go down by P12 or more.)

According to the energy chief, the dip in global prices can be largely attributed to lower oil demand in China, given the reimposition of lockdowns due to a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

Cusi added that talks between Ukraine and Russia, a major oil and gas producer, also tempered prices.

On Tuesday, oil firms implemented their highest price hikes yet – raising diesel prices by P13.15 per liter and gasoline prices by P7.10 per liter. Since the start of the year, prices have increased by P20.35 per liter for gasoline, P30.65 per liter for diesel, and P24.90 per liter for kerosene.

On Wednesday, Cleanfuel announced rollbacks of P3 and P5 per liter for diesel products, taking effect beginning 4 pm on Wednesday until Friday, March 18.

So far, the government’s economic team prefers fuel subsidies over the suspension of excise taxes, saying that revenues must be “preserved” during the pandemic. Duterte also approved cash subsidies amounting to P200 per household for 12 months or a total of P2,400 a year, for the bottom 50% of Filipino families.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also seems cool to the idea of increasing the minimum wage in Metro Manila. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said during the briefing that raising wages by 6% or P39 could result in a one-percentage-point increase in the inflation rate.

According to NEDA, the hypothetical P39 increase was calculated to account for inflation since 2018 – the last time the minimum wage in Metro Manila was adjusted.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered a review of minimum wage across the country given the higher fuel costs.

Cusi, meanwhile, said he supports NEDA’s four-day workweek proposal and the continuous implementation of work-from-home arrangements to save on fuel. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.