Oil price cuts precede tax hike

Hefty rollbacks not enough to ease consumers’ burden—solons

More oil companies are expected to cut pump prices effective Tuesday by as much as P2.10 per liter to reflect the movement in world oil prices.

Amid the eighth weekly consecutive oil price rollback, economic managers are pushing for an increase in fuel tax, reversing their previous recommendation.

PTT Philippines, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Chevron Philippines, and Seaoil Philippines issued separate advisories about the price rollback.

PTT said it would roll back the price of diesel by P2.10 a liter and gasoline by P2 a liter effective 6 am, Dec. 4.

Shell and Seaoil announced similar price cuts of P2.10 per liter for diesel, P2 per liter for gasoline and P2 per liter for kerosene while Chevron, which markets the Caltex brand, cut prices for both fuels by P2 a liter, as Phoenix Petroleum did on Saturday.

World oil prices have declined, weighed down by uncertainty over the US-China trade war and signs of increased global crude production, the Department of Energy said in its latest monitoring report.

Expectations that crude exporters would agree to cut output at an upcoming Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting, however, helped to ease the price decline slightly.

The department said market participants looked ahead to a meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 nations (G20), the world’s biggest economies, from Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, with the trade war between Washington and Beijing on top of the agenda.

The ongoing supply glut plunged oil prices downwards after the US Energy Information Administration released its weekly petroleum status report last week, showing that US commercial crude inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels, maintaining a total US commercial crude inventory of 450.5 million barrels.

DOE said the crude inventory was now about 7 percent higher than the five-year average for this time of year and has risen for 10 consecutive weeks.

Last week, the oil companies also cut the price of gasoline by P1.10 per liter, kerosene by P2.10 per liter and diesel by P2.30 per liter.

Despite the recent oil price rollbacks, the government should continue with the scheduled suspension of an increase in the excise tax on fuel because the prices of basic commodities have remained high, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Sunday.

“It’s quite obvious that prices of goods remain high—the cost of fares did not move,” Gatchalian said in an interview over radio dzBB.

He also said the cost of rice and vegetables were just the same despite the decreasing cost of petroleum in the world market.

The chairman of the Senate energy and economic affairs committee said it is only now that people are trying to recoup their losses due to high inflation.

“Also, many of our drivers had loans so they’re still paying their debts so we are asking for more time,” he said.

The country’s economic managers have taken back their earlier recommendation to suspend the implementation of the second round of increases in the excise taxes on fuel, citing the declining world prices for oil.

But Gatchalian said the suspension of the excise tax was meant to help consumers cope with inflation, which remains a problem.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara agreed, saying that most Filipino families have yet to feel the effects of the oil price rollbacks.

“The rollback should not end here. This should be followed by a rollback in inflation or the price of primary goods,” said Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee.

He said the prices of goods should also go down with the lowering of the prices of petroleum.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law imposed a P2.50 per liter excise tax on diesel from zero and hiked the levy on gasoline to P7 per liter.

The TRAIN Law also provides that excise taxes for diesel will be hiked by a total of P4.50 and those of gasoline by P9 under the second tranche starting 2019.

The law allows a suspension of these increases, however, if the average price of Dubai crude reaches or exceeds $80 a barrel for three months before the next round of excise tax increases.

Topics: oil price rollback , PTT Philippines , Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. , Chevron Philippines , Seaoil Philippines
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